15 Collaborative Behaviours To Change Your Group’s Outcomes

Collaborate or Die

We are meant to play nicely, work as a team and respect each other. In Part 1, we expanded on 10 reasons why this often fails to happen.

In this Part 3, we now look at the key desirable behaviours that, when practiced mindfully and regularly, WILL produce a team breakthrough, get the group to the goal and leave everyone alive, and, at least on speaking terms at the end.

As you move through the behaviours, ask yourself, “Do I do this? “Can I start doing this?” And, “Will I step up and do this regularly?”

15 Strong Suggestions

  1. Interrupt your dark defensive moments and fill them with light.

Experienced in so many ways as sarcasm, denial, anger, avoidance and justification, defensiveness – This is the burden suffered by most teams attempting to become more collaborative and effective.

Action

Borrowed from anger management training courses, the best method is to spot the symptoms of early on-set defensiveness and divert the behaviour, diminish it or reverse it. If you are beginning to feel your blood boil, take a walk to the balcony, go smell the flowers and take your imagination to a place of cool, calm tranquillity to “reset” your body’s distracting chemicals.

Young attractive business people - the elite business team

  1. Coaching your colleagues through any resistance.

The majority of people will not instantly get behind a fresh idea or new change. They will choose to wait it out, criticise it, or, mount an attack.

Action

Here, a coaching approach can be effective as you focus inside your colleague’s head to access both their imagination and logic circuits to help them do the work of processing change and getting on board for themselves. Questions that help to create different and contrasting futures are good – “What if we carry on as we are? What are the risks of this?” “If we had 10 times the resources available, what should we do next?” “If you were the team leader now, what course of action would you recommend?” Etc.

  1. Actively listening to your concerned colleague.

The problem with teams is that the confident, privileged and beautiful get most of the airtime. And this dynamic is actually reinforced by everybody in the team – even the oppressed, the shy, or, the outsiders. The reflectors, quiet geniuses and shy analysts are not prone to speak up, do not feel they have permission to speak and, thus, do not take up their share of the microphone.

Action

Related to coaching but intruding less, listening is about getting the whole story out of the coachee / colleague. We can employ minimal encouragement – “That is important, please tell us more” “You were saying…” “And, what does this mean for our team?” Quieter members of the team may be more sensitive. If you overdo it they will clam up – Maintain a positive, still attention with minimal non-verbal, para-verbal and verbal prompts. This will be good for evening out the group’s share of voice, listening to all and including their ideas and concerns as well as counting the vote of everybody to form an inclusive group dynamic that will be effective in taking a diverse group all the way to a stretched goal.

  1. Building muscular resilience.

We can see resilience as the ability to bounce back from pressure, stress or becoming knocked off balance, AND, still being about to function effectively. In the politics of the team, possessing greater resilience can take people all the way to the top. And a lack of resilience will see someone being relegated to the oppressed group, or demoted to basic executive duties. They are sent to eat at the children’s table.

Action

Resilience comes in 4 flavours – Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Teams or individuals can be encouraged to participate in simple and repeated exercises to stretch and build their resilience muscles. Physical – Regular exercise, monitoring diet and alcohol consumption. Emotional – Developing the habit of experiencing positive emotions through appreciation, gratitude and laughter. Mental – Simple maths exercises. Spiritual – Practicing your faith or thinking pure thoughts.

  1. Learning to resolve difference intelligently.

It is easy to sulk, withdraw and dismiss a different opinion from your own. This actually represents a form of defensiveness and will not allow a team to become optimally collaborative.

Action

Imagine learning to reconcile difference to a level where, “I am OK & You’re OK”, becomes the default setting for the group. (We discuss a positive exception to this later).

What difference would this make to the atmosphere and energy in your team? The simplest method when two parties are on opposite sides of an argument or behaviour style (e.g. direct communicators v indirect communicators), is to reconcile the difference. We ask first, what is the benefit and contribution of each style, acknowledging that a diversity of approaches is actually NECESSARY for success. We then work on how we can accommodate those two benefits in team communications or by putting them into the project plan. E.g. direct people tell the unvarnished truth, which can be invaluable when a crisis is looming. Diplomatic indirect people keep the channels of communication open, maintain higher levels of trust and ensure the probability of long-term communication. It is easy to see that both styles are required. The task then is to design simple protocols that allow both styles to operate with respect and appreciation within the team.

Colorful 3D rendering. Abstract shape composition, geometric structure block. Wallpaper for graphic design.

  1. Two heads are better than one when solving a problem.

If you are a hammer, your default mode is to bash things on the head. Not great when changing the batteries in your watch. Again a diversity of approaches will be more effective.

Action

Practicing problem solving can be a bonding process that deepens the respect and positive emotions of all team members. Weekly intellectual challenges involving abstract problems can be a fun team building activity that is secretly growing the team’s capacity to handle complex issue, resolve involved messes, and, operate smoothly and efficiently when a live business problem comes along.

  1. Trust underpins it all.

Without trust we have defensiveness, solo silos, and Machiavellian plots.

Action

There are 3 components to trust – Ability, Benevolence and Integrity. Each must be in play to ensure positive vulnerability and promote trust in a high functioning collaborative team. Ability – Giving recognition to the skills, competence and experience of each team member is a way that quickly establishing better communication and inclusion in any team. X becomes the go-to person on subject Y. Benevolence – By this we mean that each member declares and proves that they are not wishing a negative outcome upon their colleagues. They wish to allow a beneficial or, at least, neutral state to exist. Integrity – My word is my bond. It is essential to continually keep your promises in order to maintain confidence in the overall performance of any team. If there is a weak link, the whole side will feel let down.

  1. The Licensed Pessimist.

The risk to any team is Groupthink, where a strong personality is accepted as leader and their ego expands to a level where they propose actions that represent foolhardy risk taking. The compliant and passive nodders around them, allow and encourage adoption of this fast-track route to disaster.

Action

Challenging the precepts of 7. we deliberately create a rotating and official role that allows and encourages a critical view and gives full permission for that person to voice their concerns – The Licenced Pessimist. “What if the market does not recover? What then?” “Those numbers appear way too optimistic. How did you derive them?”

When immunity from revenge and animosity is established in the group’s ground rules, the role becomes effective and essential in stress testing all new input to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

Team building. Group pf colleagues sitting in a circle and playing games and having fun.

  1. Holding everybody accountable.

Like a sulky child, the wayward executive defends their actions by saying – “Well I didn’t agree with the decision to go this route in the first place.” (Though they remained silent or did not actively disagree, when given the chance before the decision was made.) It is this lack of ownership that will lead to a suboptimal quality of work and poor outcomes.

Action

Asking everybody to say the word, “agree” can be enough to reduce the number of passive passengers on the bus and encourage everybody to process the information to form an active and personally held view. More people are then included in the process of building strategy, planning and problem solving.

  1. Regular Brainstorming.

Habits are quick to form and hard to change. It is easier to repeat what you did yesterday than take a different approach today in order to get a stronger result tomorrow. We are conservative, risk avoidant and take comfort in repetition. The zone we live in is far from comfortable – We stay in horrible jobs, relationships or houses not out of comfort, but out of habit.

Action

This activity will also count towards your resilience exercises. Brainstorming is about expanding the creative connections that you allow your imagination to make by expressing yourself freely. Exempt from criticism and editing, brainstorming moves in waves. There will be a burst of output, a lull, a second burst, and then a second lull. Keep going. It is often in the third burst that the gold is to be found.

  1. Turning passive to active.

What is written on the tombstone of most failed companies, “Well, we tried”. Not hard enough. Underperformance is supported in meetings and work by grey language, low energy sentences and half-hearted commitment. “I’ll try” is at the heart of all of them.

Action

Challenge sluggish, monotone responses to requests. Do not take “Maybe” for an answer. When you are asked, “How you are in the morning?”, upgrade your answer from a monotone, “ffiinne, I suppose” to, “SUPERB AND FANTASTIC. THANKS FOR ASKING.“

  1. Get rid of blame.

The best companies react intelligently to crisis, drama and adverse external circumstance. They do not start to defend, point the finger or avoid responsibility.

Action

The next time you have a company fire to put out and you follow the charter (point 15.) you will experience a difference in atmosphere and will have the chance to see the benefit of full-on collaboration in action. When people are scientific in their description of events this can be captured on a timeline. When they are objective in outlining the symptoms and measured in their analysis of likely causes, then you will experience the pay-off in investing to build collaborative mechanisms in your team.

  1. Moderation and facilitating collaboration.

The accidental hero boss can unintentionally ignore valuable input in order to maintain their hero brand. The neurotic and scared boss may shut down intelligent challenge, not because of the quality of the input, but due to their own insecurities. And, the time-scarce leader can move the meeting along, unconsciously, only asking group thinkers and fans for input, driven by a misguided and dangerous perceived need for peace and pace rather than quality and challenge.

Action

The job of a great moderator is to even out the debate and include a wider base of people, delivering a more diverse and representative contribution – Sampling a diversity of opinion and actively encouraging the quieter sources of wisdom to share their contribution, speak up and be heard.

  1. Good Conflict.

Many companies employ “nice” people who are expected to be “nice”. What actually happens is they become avoidant and this allows stupider ideas to become policy in action, leading to disaster.

Action

Promote the licensed critic, the robust challenger and include different opinions (and integrate these exotic gems via the process of reconciliation.) The smart move is to establish a protocol for allowed any civilised challenge within a robust but protected environment, to produce better suggestions, better processes, more considered solutions and a better customer experience. All this is done to generate improved products, services and engagement, the end result of which, will be experienced in higher income and healthier levels of profit.

  1. Capture collaboration in a charter    How many great training initiatives generated on a Friday are quietly killed off at the 8.30AM reporting meeting on a Monday? A. Most of them. It is easier to let innovation, change and challenge die on the vine and to go back to those old habits that are, actually not serving you well, but feel like an old pair of shoes – At least familiar. The problem is, they represent a slow company suicide.

Action

The formulation of a charter for collaborative team behaviours, formed collaboratively. Is that too obvious? It does not start with a stone tablet issuing from the CEO’s office. It does not come from an expensive off-site weekend jolly for Directors only. It comes from the floor. It evolves. It represents the voice and heart of everybody. And, it is signed up to by everybody – Volunteers stepping up, not coerced group thinkers just nodding along.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, trainer, writer, and public speaker, working with UK and International teams to get them beyond their blockages to create durable results in an exciting peer-to-peer atmosphere of exchange, fairness and excellence.

Contact Matthew on 075 40 65 9995 for a short conversation.

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“A blank slate? Brain Science and Cultures” Florence, 4 – 6th April 2019

Roberto Ruffino reminds us that registration is now open for this important International conference taking place in Florence on 4th to 6th April 2019, Please visit the conference site;
And – Reminder; Early bird fees until January 15th. Thank you!
Roberto Ruffino

SIETAR UK Christmas Do, 4th December 2018, Holland Park. 6.30PM

The annual get together will be at the London School of International Communication

15 Holland Park Gardens, London, W14 8DZ – Tubes – Holland Park or Shepherds Bush.

aged wine

SIETAR UK Christmas Do

Click on the link for tickets and details;

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sietar-uk-christmas-party-tickets-47791720322

See you there…

Great Presenter Top Tips – Hesitation, Deviation and Repetition – Just a Minute! by Matthew Hill

Don’t hesitate……….Don’t hesitate. Did I mention not hesitating? And, another thing…

The BBC’s long running radio parlour game on Radio 4, “Just a Minute” asks charismatic celebrities to entertain the studio and radio audience by talking for 60 seconds on a topic that is spontaneously chosen and allocated to them.

They are asked to talk non-stop with out hesitation, deviation or repetition.

But, are they right? Is this what great presenters do? And, is it what aspiring presenters should be aiming for?

NO! And, here’s why;

1) Hesitation

The pause is a critical part of spoken communication. There are 3 basic forms of silence in conversation and its opposite, interruption or overlapping chatter. Let us look at them and what they signify. A) The Northern European way – one person speaks at time, interruptions are rare and over-talking can be viewed as disrespectful. Gaps are dangerous and tend to be avoided – This is one reason why we get so many uhms and arghs in speech. The brain is desperate to fill any space that could cause a delay in delivered conversation. B) The Latin overlap – multiple players compete, collaborate and finish each other’s sentences in a display of empathy and contextual comfort. Here passion drives speech. The interruption is perceived as sympatico assistance, moving the emotion and dialogue along. Finally, C) The respectful silence of Japan or Finland, where silence is a valid unit of conversation – signifying reflection, respect and that the listener is taking the content of the other speaker seriously.

Man Giving A Speech On Stage

Silence is Authority

More evidence – I remember the opening of a large conference in Sophia, Bulgaria when a disparate group of academics, trainers and coaches came together having not seen each other for a couple of years. Add to this volatile mix, a vast spread of inviting food and good Bulgarian wine at the back of the room, and, we had the perfect cocktail for naughty schoolboy and schoolgirl behaviour and a room about to get seriously out of hand.

The courageous conference leader stood on the stage at the front and used a trick that worked. She just stood there, centred, still and silent. The naughty children (conference delegates) noticed, reacted reflexively and, row after row, sat down, shut up and paid attention.

Punctuation

How do we translate the words on the page into representative spoken form? What does a comma, full stop or paragraph sound like? They sound like a silent pause.

Action

Have more faith in silence and use it to boost your authority with the audience, give them time to absorb your wisdom, and, show that you are a confident presenter in charge of your body, your topic and the room.

2) Deviation

Whilst we are with the BBC, Do you remember Ronnie Corbett’s rambling stories, sat in that scruffy old chair every Saturday night? Appearing spontaneous, this rehearsed and masterful performance took the audience down many side roads, twists and turns – so many, you thought he would never get to the destination. What was, in fact, being delivered was a layering of content, a weaving of related references and the painting of a larger, textured story canvas. This was a mini-novel that allowed you to participate, experience and suspend your cynical perspective, as a critical and logical observer, and, to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of Ronnie’s constructed world.

Great speakers are deviants!

When you lace your speech with local landmarks and historic event or call out the last presenter’s content, you are branding yourself as a confident, present and aware performer at the top of your game, and, at ease with your core material. So, it is the drift from your script that is human, charming and impressive, not just sticking to the oft-repeated script of a keynote.

Action

Be prepared to inject a reference or two about the venue, the audience or the preceding entertainer, in order to elevate yourself to the level of super speaker.

3) Repetition.

We are told not to repeat ourselves. The irony is that repetition, and, repetition of the thing we just repeated, works. It reinforces the message, makes it stand out and breaks the listener’s ineffective patterns of remembering. Location Location Location. Education Education Education – You remember what those phrases refer to. “You turn if you want to, but the lady’s not for turning.” (No judgement.)

What?

When we speak to international audiences, it is an act of kindness to repeat key words. In a noisy environment, it is advisable to repeat key messages, and, in the army, the instructors are giving the following instructions, “Tell ‘um what you are going to tell ‘um, tell ‘um it, and, then, tell ‘um what you just told ‘um.” – Words to live by.

Action

Load up your call to action sentence with repetition and see what added response you get. You may be surprised at the benefit of repetition to your outcome.

So the skill of the BBC parlour game was, in fact, to go against what is wise, when speaking in public. Ironic me thinks.

About to present? Take action now!

Call Matthew Hill on 07540 65 9995 for a no c ost, no obligation coaching chat to boost your performance on the big day.

Conference Speaker Marketing Tips – Getting Ready For Your Star Turn As A Conference Speaker

Conference Speaker Homework and Pre-Work

The biggest single opportunity for any freelancer is to be found on stage. When you are invited to speak, there will be plenty to preparatory work to get on with. It is not just about getting your presentation in tip-top condition for maximum impact and return. There is content creation, marketing and relationship warming, ahead of your gig, to consider too.

Here are 8 things to concentrate upon when you have received that special call.

  1. Your profile for the event (and on LinkedIn too.) Most people will have a medium to long list of institutions, qualifications and achievements for the poor conference delegate to wade through. THIS MISSES THE POINT. Your speaker profile can be a brochure not just your CV. The opportunity here is to market yourself to get known. Why not connect to your audience ahead of time with a pitch that is authentic and penetrating. Something like…

PITCH PROFILE “I help (specific target audience within the general conference audience) to achieve (their specific desired and needed outcome / result) by providing (unique and differentiated services with personality, power and a twist). I have worked with (global customer 1, regional customer 2 and local customer 3) and worked (in a way that is unique, exciting and positive).

  1. Honing Your Content to Post On-Line – You will have, at the heart of your experience, extraordinary solutions, methods and ideas that can really accelerate the progress of your customers. Now is the time to dig out and re-write the best of your past published efforts and re-purpose them for your fresh conference audience. What do these new prospects fear, lack or not know? What do they need to do, know or change? Get that content out there on social media and, particularly, on the channel where the event is being actively promoted.
  2. Database – I have said this many times – “If you don’t have a database then you don’t have a business.” Do you have a database? Are they all opted in, legal and GDPR compliant? AND, have you segmented them into HOTS, warms and colds? Now is the time to do that.

At the conference itself, you can meet people, collect their cards, if they qualify, and ask permission to send them a P4P – Product4Prospect – An informational gift that is brief and of perceived value to your new contact. This ticks the box for opting in, creating a sense of reciprocity and helps establish you as a generous expert. There are two forms of doing this – the product and the newsletter.

Developing new strategy.

  1. P4P Product – This might be in the form of a helpful tips sheet, a white paper, a tick sheet (have you done the following?) or a link to a film or resource bank that you control. It should be brief, relevant and have your mark and contact details on it, along with suggested next steps i.e. A Call To Action – CTA.
  2. Newsletter – The majority of people I work with do not START out with a newsletter and I understand why. It appears to be a lot of work. And, they will only have 10 people to send it to, etc. etc.

Now let’s get down to content creation. Do we really have to make such a big deal out of it? From conversations you have held in the last 90 days, what were the topics that revved up your passion levels? What did you read that set you alight? These are the topics to write 250 or 500 words on. Just two posts will be fine for now. Turning the top tips sheet accompanying your speech into the a meaty first newsletter post makes a lot of obvious sense too.

  1. Fill Your Table – I have written elsewhere about filling your blue velvet event table with content, if you have been allocated one. This will help establish you as credible, an expert and being ready to deliver.
  2. Share specialist content. As with point 2., you need to fill the right channels with quality content. It does not, however, all have to be your own. When you curate the content of other people, you gain a little reflected glory from these other specialists and their magical words. And, you gain brownie points for saving people the bother of looking it up themselves. Simply find the best material out there, add some intelligent analysis on top and post it. You will then be seen as better by association.
  3. Capture your assets. The first time you do this before a conference speech, it will seem like a lot of work. Find the golden hour slot in your day, when your brain works at its best and block out that space, EVERY day for one, two or three weeks until your preparation is complete.

And, do create a space where you can store all of the IP and marketing collateral that you have just created, to be adapted quickly and used next time. The next time you run through this process before a conference speech, it will take only HALF the time and your materials will become richer and more focused, serving the needs and gaps that your audience are crying out for you to help them with.

Action

So what will you do now?

Call Matthew on 0754065 9995 for a 15-minute coaching session (no c ost and no obligation) if you are serious about making the most of your next conference speaking invitation.

 

What Marketing Do You Need To Think About NOW To Have A Great 2019?

Now is the time to build your returns next year

Whether you are an independent Intercultural Trainer, Coach or Mediator, It is what you think about and prepare this year, that will determine your business results next year. And, a moment’s pause over the Christmas break will definitely be too little and too late. Now is the time to do some deeper work.

4 Marketing Areas to Consider – Identity, Audience, Product & Tribe

Young women planning vacation trip and searching information

It’s what you do this year that will make the difference next year

1) Identity – Imagine you are in a taxi, driving away from your best day in 2019. Yes imagine it. I have a philosophical question for you. You look down at the 10 / 10 feedback. Great. You feel sweaty and fabulous. You know that you just peaked back there. You are in flow and buzzing.

So,

Who were you? What persona or aspects of YOU were you choosing to emphasise? What part of your essence did you connect with your participants in order to feel this good? What did you draw upon from your experience to light up that room?

Are you thinking of the answer? – I hope so – Because that is your winning commercial identity for 2019…

2) Audience – If you had to pick just one recipient type for the whole of 2019 and stick to it, what facets would become important to you? What would you demand was in the room? What character / background / education and demographic would be most exciting for you to work with? Who would keep you excited as a trainer / coach / mediator? Who would bring out the best in you? Who would benefit the most from your life experience and expertise? Who would you make shine?

Got it? Found it? Zoned in on it? Do you want to own that space? Do you want to go deep and be THE EXPERT here?

That is your ideal audience for 2019.

3) Product – You have a little time to repurpose your life experience, training and education into whatever form you wish. What will suit you best? – Classroom / webinar / virtual coaching / blog channel / public speaking from a stage / pre-recorded remote E Learning package / book / film / audio?

Technology is rushing toward us and eliminating complexity, cost and many barriers to entry.

Almost anybody today can make almost anything.

So what form will your offer take in 2019 and what do you need to line up now to make that happen? What do you need to learn about? What do you need to prepare? Who do you need to rope in to help? Where will you make this splendid thing? What time, money and effort will you invest in the project?

That will be your new product for 2019.

4) Tribe – No, I am not repeating 2) – That was your avatar. Tribe / crowd / list / database / contact list / warms – These are names of the new people who will become your paying customers in 2019. Today, many do not know you exist. When you get your marketing right, they will come to you, listen to you, get to know you, like you, trust you, purchase a product or service from you.

AND,

If you really get it right, they will pay what you ask and do what you say!!!!

Marketing to build your tribe – So, how will you interrupt people this year? How will you get their attention? How will you bond with them? What will you give to them first to gain their trust? What small offering will you provide to move them from being critical observers to becoming first-time customers? And, what follow-up offering will you make to bring them all the way in? And, what second offering will you create to keep them as valued customers?

The winners next year will work on their marketing THIS YEAR. So, what are waiting for? What are you going to do today?

Call Matthew for a 15-minute coaching (no cost and no obligation) if you need a little help in narrowing down your answers to the questions above. 07540 65 9995

Thanks and here’s wishing you a really strong 2019.

Credibility Part 2 – The 11 Essential Components – How many do you have? by Matthew Hill

If you haven’t got cred, why get out of bed?

Whether you are a university professor battling your painful way up the academic ladder, an independent trainer providing stimulating sessions in a classroom, or, a coach drumming up new clients, there will be one thing that walks into the room before you do Your Credibility.

It is the label that attaches to you. If you are late for a dinner party or social gathering you will be introduced with that label or property – “Sarah Smith is coming, you know, the one who XXX.” Where XXX represents your reputation / key knowledge asset or the story that sticks to you most.

In the next post – Credibility Part 3, we will outline the key actions you must take in order to boost your credibility to the max and escape any negative aspect of your reputation that is holding you back.

So, what are the components of your credibility? Let us skim the surface with just 11.

*1. Skills and competence – We would not be having this conversation if you were not talented, brimming with potential and waiting to add value to various groups and communities. It is the things you know, can apply and that have an effect that are important.

red vector bubble banner credibility

Skill after skill after skill

Action – Make a note of all the skills, competences and value you have and can bring to a group. When you carry out this exercise with true diligence, the breadth of your list may surprise you.

  1. Benevolent energy – Basically are you a nice person, doing nice things for people who have a clear need? It is the opposite of malevolence – wanting something bad to a happen to a group of people – Imagine the rare instance of a racist politician (hard though that is to imagine.)

Action – Take a brief look in the mirror and ask yourself if you want something good for your target audience? We wish you well with your answer.

  1. Consistency – When you keep your promise, show up on time and deliver results, your credibility will skyrocket. It is simple, though many fail to recognize the importance of this component.

Action – Honesty test – Are you a woman / man of your word?

  1. Look and smell like a winner. As I write this piece it is London Fashion Week (It seems like it always is.) Magazines, Hollywood gossip or Friday night at the pub – The focus is on outer appearance. We are simple forest creatures and we pick our mates and leaders visually. So, you do need to look the part. Tall people do better. Blondes outscore brunettes and bald men are paid less that the lion maned – Nobody said life was fair.

Action – I did attend a serious conference in Germany a few years back that included a specialist on this topic and she concluded that we should all rush out and get a lift, tuck and liposuction! Food for thought…

  1. Eloquent Connecters – We have included two components here for expediency. If you can start with your audience – Work out who they are and communicate effectively with them, you will gain great credibility rapidly. It is less about you and more about them. On top of this if you have a memorable and effective public speaking style, then you will gain bonus credibility points and will experience more control over your own destiny.

Action – Study influencing techniques, learn advanced presentation skills and book yourself some singing lessons this week.

  1. Quality – “Good is not longer good enough. You now have to be remarkable.” (Seth Godin) Excellence is the new normal and we all have to step up in ALL areas. Charm will take you just so far (my spelling mistakes are charming to all those who are not full-on OCD.) Taking your work and output to a new level of accuracy, depth and style will make a big difference.

Action – Use editors and designers, and, practice your pitch in front of constructive critics to take your game up a level.

excellence award - red blurred stamp

At the top of your game

  1. Be a problem solver (and not the problem) The parenthesise refer to Princes and Princess who are perceived as being high maintenance. This becomes their label and overshadows talent, value and core message. There is nothing more attractive to an audience than a fixer, travelling through work and life being willing and able to untangle cables, solve the issue with the numbers, and, move on to deliver results, solve the puzzle and allow others to win.

Action – Please attempt to be user friendly. Practice root cause analysis and problem solving. Learn how the world works and give away your victories.

  1. Reframe pessimism as optimism – Are you a radiator or a drain? Do you suck the life out of a room or illuminate the space in front of you? When you replace low energy passivity with realistic enthusiasm, you will be loved. When you take the negative and reframe it positively, you will be respected. It is easy to join in with a depressed bunch and chime in with the collective moaning – misery loves company. Please do not be tempted to do this. It will become your label. Whinging Winston / Wendy. Nobody will want you at their party.

Action – Practice reframing low energy, blocked and negative group input constructively and positively, adding energy and inspiration into the mix for good measure.

  1. Become the Go To Expert GTE – Taking a couple of the points above, there is a space waiting for you as a Subject Matter Expert – SME. This is about depth and breadth –Mastery of content. When you get there you will, automatically become the GO TO EXPERT person. Is that what you crave? Can you handle the pressure? Are you prepared to step up, take on the role? And deliver?

Action – Study, learn, read, ask to become an SME in your chosen field.

The Winnr is...

  1. Opinion Leader – Subtly different from point 9. Being an OL is a specific role that combines expertise with communication. It is the embodiment of Credibility in action. It actively connects the value that you have with the attention, need and desire of your audience to engage with you, follow you, relate to your purpose and DO WHAT YOU SUGGEST. When you are at this level (the top of the mountain), you will have the power to drive audiences to take meaningful action. You will be able to direct attention to a fruitful and ethical agenda, and, you will be able to make a leveraged difference through the crowd you have gathered. It is an awesome space with a large quotient of moral responsibility. SO – PLEASE – USE YOUR PLATFORM WISELY.

Action – Decide upon a utilitarian path, do the work to get to the top, use your powers for good, and, DO NOT BELIEVE ALL THE HYPE.

Conclusion

You will have noticed the common themes of selflessness, great communication, inclusion of others, putting in the work and keeping to an ethical stance. The rest is up to you.

Question – What will precede you into the room in one year’s time? That depends on what you start doing now.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a trainer, coach, facilitator, author, public speaker and broadcaster, helping executives and leaders to uncover their soft skills talent, strengthen their competences and, whilst reaching their own potential, benefit their teams and their environment.

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Collaboration Post 2 – 4 Tools To Create Constructive Collaboration by Matthew Hill

Most people, most of the time, are not in collaboration mode – they are pursuing a totally different agenda

Tool 1 Active Listening

Before you dismiss this with a, “ ‘been there, done that, know it all already!” (that would indicate that you are overdue for a listening refresher course), let us remind ourselves that most people, most of the time are not listening actively. They are more likely to be;

*Waiting their turn to give their version of what has just been said, and, if they are super competitive, to story top and WIN! This is not active listening.

Team

Selfless Working

*Asking WIIFM? “What’s in it for me?” This person mines your data looking to extract personal gain and advantage from your content. It is a search function akin to selective attention. Test this by throwing in some test words, “Sex, beer and Netflix” and watch thier reaction. When they twitch they will know you are on to them. This is not an empathic activity.

*I know best. The Listening Observer Critic sits high up, even whilst standing, and allows their privilege to leak out with advice, constructive (or undermining) criticism to let you know that they are just a little bit better than you. These people lack empathy and their contribution may leave a bitter residue.

And now the real thing – Active Listening

The missing elements include;

*First attempting a broad understanding of what is being said and then taking a further empathic step – to understand the speaker as the SPEAKER intends to be understood. This is the Platinum level of listening.

*Psychological proof. This stage is not attained by the listener repeating what they have heard. A smart phone can do that. They are tasked with processing the information from their own perspective, attempting empathy and seeing the matter from the speaker’s Point of View – POV and, then, expressing what they think they have heard. Here we may add, checking for clarity and the confirming the intention component as well. This will sound like, “So, IF I have understood you correctly, I heard XXX. Is that the message you wished me to receive?”

*Letting them finish. The talking stick remains with the speaker for as long as they wish so they finally can feel they have said their piece.

Shocked girl eavesdropping.

Listening?

Miracle

The first time you try these ideas out with a passionate person, the results may overwhelm both them and you. This may be the first occasion when they have actually felt listened too with respect, depth and acknowledgement.

Good luck

Tool 2. Point of View – POV

This is a POV and reconciliation exercise that can be practiced as a training exercise and then used in real conversations. The training version is simple. Split the group into 3s. The first person takes the role of Finance Director, the second, New Young Executive and the third, the Project Delivery Leader. The context is set – The 3 of you are discussing the progress of a critical 90-day work project for your Golden Goose customer. As it stands, you are not going to hit either the quality mark or the tight deadline. Q. What do you do? The suggestion that you are now going to form an opinion on is; PAID OVERTIME. Are you for it or against it in this instance?

+ The first task is for the 3 to get into character and give a one-line opinion, yes or no, with, maybe, one line of explanation.

The answers are normally the expected ones – The Finance Director says, “The new money is not in the budget – No,” Etc.

+ The second task is to work out a strategy for how to reconcile the 3 points of view to reach the required quality standard, and, put in enough work hours to finish the job and end before the deadline.

There normally follows some creative thinking, challenge to opposing positions and a reconciliation that ends come up with a strategy that is, 1) paid for, 2) creates more hours of labour to complete the project, and, 3) can be agreed upon by the 3 people in the discussion.

This exercises mirrors what is required of a Collaborative Working Group – the robust exchange of truths, creating options, reconciling differences and mobilising around a common outcome to stay focused on the task, and, not get distracted by difference.

Once the training version has been completed it is time to have a go in the BWW – The Big Wide World.

Tool 3. Letting Go of Defensiveness

If there were just one freeing exercise that was mandatory for all boards, groups and committees, this would be it. Humans are emotional, primal and full of fear. It is mostly misdirected fear around the participant’s core needs not being met that causes so much grief and delay.

Group Of Young Business People

Stop crossing your arms!

When a board member’s core needs are threatened, defensiveness can easily follow. The 3 needs are;

*Significance – Privilege, status, power, importance or position – When this is threatened or exposed, defensiveness will never be far behind.

*Competence – Another key component of a board member’s identity tool kit is their ability and skill level. When this is challenged, called into questioned or undermined in real time, defensive will surely follow.

*Likable – To generalise – We all have a deep deep desire to be admired, liked and approved of. It is a critical part of most of us and the one need that is examined the most – “Do they like me?” “Will they like me?” “Am I being likable now?” Etc.

How does defensiveness manifest? We can make progress when we spot the symptoms of defensiveness, spot them early and interrupt the negative behaviour that will inevitably follow.

Examples include; plunging into sulky silence, The “poor me” victim script, All or nothing, polarised thinking, wanting and needing to be right, spreading the blame or shame, experiencing a sudden drop in IQ, experiencing energy ripping through the body, doom mongering / catastrophizing, needing the last word, obsessive thinking, Needing to pour out information or saying, “I don’t really get defensive.”

Action – With self-awareness, each board / committee member can learn to notice their own pattern of moving into defensiveness. The next move it to interrupt that normal course of events, reset, and, move in a different direction.

If you start to witter when you feel attacked – Stop, centre yourself and remain silent. If you suffer a drop in IQ, stop and focus on an intelligence enhancing strategy such as collecting symptoms from the recent conversations and attempting to derive a root cause that can be dealt with. If you feel like pointing the finger, interrupt yourself and focus on environmental causes not ones originating for any individual in the room. And so on.

Tool 4 The Licenced Pessimist

If you are familiar with Edward De Bono’s Six Hat Thinking Model, you will know that the Black Hat is tasked with thinking of the biggest risks and the worst outcomes. This function is essential if a group is to combat GROUPTHINK. Groupthink happens when overly homogenous groups, often lead by a strong or charismatic leader, get behind an idea and really go for it. When it is a particularly extreme point of view, risk management goes out the window and, suddenly, something bizarre ends up being carried out by an enthusiastic lynch mob. Remember the HSBC credit officer who saw the 2007 subprime loan property disaster unfolding in the US and spoke up. He was fired by the group-thinking board and disaster followed shortly after.

Asking people to rotate and take a turn to act as the devil’s advocate is a great way to stress test all ideas, and challenge all assumptions before bad outcomes occur.

Hint – It is best to keep rotating this role through the group or an unconscious bias will grow and that single Black Hat will begin to be seen as not playing a useful role but OWNING their tasked negative perspective permanently.

Conclusion

We hope you have benefited from these 4 tools and ideas and will implement them with your committees, boards and teams.

Please like and share if you are going to take action or think others could benefit from this input. Thank you.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a trainer, facilitator, coach and public speaker helping executives and leaders uncover their soft skill talents, develop their communication competences and, whilst reaching their own personal potential, help others to enjoy a better work life and great business outcomes. Contact him by telephone;  07540659995

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Book Review DIY Mediation – The Conflict Resolution Toolkit Book by Marc Reid – Review by Matthew Hill

Kill the monster whilst it is small

Marc Reid has produced something of substantial value to the wider business (and intercultural) community.

Context

The old world of HR seemed to recoil from conflict and wished to avoid all drama, only to be called back to the matter when things had escalated to a level requiring on the record, expensive and time consuming action – mainly tribunals and litigation.

Mediation and pre mediation intervention aims to kill the monster whilst it is small, keep the proceedings off the record, and, allow marginal characters to gain a voice and have their say when they are feeling aggressed, disrespected or bullied.

Easy to read and easy to apply

The book has a gentle gradient, starting with what is conflict, the stages of escalation, observed behaviours and their consequences, and, peaking with the AGREE model – a process that can be used to grab hold of the issues in an intelligent way, and, move the parties towards resolution quickly, and with minimal cost, time and residue left at the end.

Models

Marc has made a sometimes complex subject easy to follow and easy to apply. He breaks down larger topics with handy acronyms and provides completely pragmatic advise on those hard to reach areas such as remaining free of judgment and partiality. My two favourites were the 3FsFacts, Feeling and Future (when exploring the circumstances of a conflict) and the HEAR method for assertive communication – Happening – establishing events on a timeline, Effect – describing impact, Acknowledge – outlining the scenario from your point of view, and, Request – stating what you, as a mediator, would like to happen next.

Written in plain English and aimed at the average corporate HR professional, this tome will be of use to anyone in business or in a broader organisation who wishes to grasp the nettle of conflict, grow their own competence and awareness in holding challenging conversations, and, who is passionate about ethical early interventions to prevent exhausting escalations in the workplace.

No book is perfect and Marc has walked into the Mehrabian trap – taking this model as an example of how little language conveys in communication. (Mehrabian himself went to great lengths to correct this misapprehension.)

Conclusion

The book provides an accessible and vital tool for HR professionals and a wider audience who wish to move from avoidance to a more collaborative and inclusive approach to handling conflict, and, who wish to pick up and use a no nonsense approach to get the job of conflict reversal in hand in their organisation.

About the reviewer – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, trainer, speaker, author and coach working to build collaboration in international teams for the SME and Corporate sector.

Purchase

To buy the book go to Amazon UK; https://www.amazon.co.uk/DIY-Mediation-Conflict-Resolution-Toolkit/dp/1785893114/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1540458765&sr=8-1&keywords=diy+mediation+reid