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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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.

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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Classroom Training for Companies is NOT Dead! And, here is the business case.

10 reasons why classrooms beat screens – An opinion piece by Matthew Hill

At the moment I am battling with a large client to “save” classroom face-to-face training against the passionate arguments from a few of their senior directors who wish to take ALL content on-line and deliver educational content via virtual E learning packages.

Their logic for this centres on time, money and travel.

Time Management Course

The way they state it, in the long run, if the company builds, say, 100 units of virtual training, the job is done – There will be relatively little further expense. In their utopian vision of the future for education, the company will not have to move people around, book flights and hotels, repeat live training or pay for group suppers and trips to the local town amusements etc. From a purely financial perspective this is both understandable and correct.

But, What is missing here, and what is going to be lost?

Save the Classroom – 10 Things to Consider…

  1. Realism

The classroom affords a much more realistic representation of a corporate meeting, a heated discussion or a simple live pair dialogue. It is this realism that will adds educational value later when the participants are locked in conflict and combat for real.

Studies in learning impact mostly conclude that the closer a learning simulation is to reality, the greater the transfer is, making the new competence ready for use in an actual live and important work scenario.

So, the 3D simulation of realistic soft skills, leadership and change exercises found in classroom encounters is going to almost always be more fresh, alive and more nuance that its virtual equivalent.

You don’t learn to ride a bicycle by reading a book.

  1. Stimulation

A half decent facilitator will bring the room to life, the group to life and the material to life. They will add energy, manage the group dynamic, warm up the participants and use humour, drama and stories to illustrate many key points and, at just the right moment. This makes a difference in driving home the learning and makes any training session, special and memorable. Let us contrast this with many conversations I have had with corporate executives bored and frustrated with long, repetitive and “averaged out” on-line training materials. Just the delivery channel alone represents an unwelcome addition time tying the stressed executive to their laptop.

We are suffering from a plague of screen fatigue.

Change management course

  1. Tailored

A live training does not have to average out the talent in the room and cater for the median delegate. There will be the strugglers, the walkers and the sprinters too. They have different needs, separate learning style preferences and each has an ideal individual tempo. In a live encounter these subtleties can be serviced in many ways to help everybody to get to progress, satisfaction and a fuller understanding of the learning on offer.

One size does not fit all.

  1. Concentration

A great trainer will sense the corporate commercial context they are walking into and feel the energy in the room. Have some awful financial figures just been released? A round of redundancies announced? Has a product or service just failed? Or, is there a tension due to an on-going external threat such as Brexit or US trade protectionism?

The trainer is there on the ground and can shape the day and absorb concerns whilst leading the group to the commercial and educational objective via adapted strategies and behaviours that respect the bigger picture and the current perceived reality.

And, they can respond to the energy levels in the room by scheduling a break or putting in an extra exercise to manage the concentration or mood of the group live, as opposed to guessing the concentration span of the average participant months in advance and having to ignore any real time distractions.

Live energy management adds to great transfer outcomes.

Diverse group of people at a community center. Meet and greet.Group exercises

  1. Exercises

Spending live time with people gives more possibilities – Role play, team building initiatives, group discussion, feedback – giving and receiving, physical breakout groups and the live reconciliation of differing opinions, learning styles and behavioural preferences as experienced when any two or more people get down to business.

Dynamic simulation exercises leads to excitement leads to retention.

  1. Questions

The effectiveness of the classroom is realised when dealing with magic learning moments that are thrown up by a group interacting around critical topics in the intimate and personal space of the classroom.

With on-line delivery, exceptional cases beyond the obvious ones cannot be catered for, as the learning piece must, by definition target a lowest common denominator of material and methods.

When an average person gets stuck, they represent more than themselves. Live, the teaching can be paused as the facilitator illuminates the troubling topic from a new perspective to ensure understanding. It can be in these simple moments that the “aha” breakthrough occurs for many. Or, when the genius delegate spots something that even the experienced facilitator has not come across before. These incidents can be special and make the live event stand out in the memory of the participants and lead to the company attaining a level of awareness or breakthrough.

More,

Those break-time chats or questions can save lives and careers, starting when a quieter member seeks out help. They can do this because the facilitator has established a safe space with sufficient levels of trust and confidentiality for the confession or enquiry to occur. Early intervention can make a significant difference to outcome.

Cater for the exceptional, the quiet and the cautious to help the whole corporation.

  1. Networking

The opportunity in the classroom to meet new people, experience the philosophy of other departments and gain knowledge of alternative points of view from a variety of counterparts can be a major contributor in gluing together a disparate multi-site organisation of virtual workers so creating an esprit de corp that will produce a lasting benefit experienced in elevated levels of cooperation and exchange during a project or around the creation of a new product in the future.

Inspiration can be all around us.

  1. Retention

When pre-reading is assigned, this can be tested for comprehension in the room. During the session, simple memory techniques can be applied to help the learning stick. When a trainer asks what have you learnt to each participant, something powerful and effective occurs. There is a richer processing of the materials, a personal commitment to owning content and a chance to challenge any part of the material just covered.

Profound and intense exercises are the way to max the stickiness of material, and, a post training conf. call can further aid retention with 3 questions; What do you remember from the day? What have you applied and it is working? And, what have you attempted to apply and it is not working?

Deeper interaction leads to greater retention and better application.

  1. Collective Mistake

The best argument for the live classroom comes in the training moment when a collective company-wide misapprehension is revealed. If everybody at Company X believes something to be true and the trainer can show that an alternative explanation or method is valid, there can be a step evolution in outcome. The magic of modern time management or leaving the comfort zone during change are two excellent examples of this, where the majority view does not always represent the “truth” of the matter.

Live training can challenge group-think in a unique and powerful way.

  1. Cost

The number one reason for the shift to on-line learning platforms is cost. But, classrooms do not have to be so expensive and a more dynamic version, blended in with any pure on-line can really make a difference.

When training days are attached to regular conferences or regional meetings, the travel costs have already been apportioned. When the benefit of constructive networking, trust building in reducing escalations or the forming of profitable collaborative partnerships is added back in, the cost per head becomes more than attractive again.

And, in the spirit of constructive compromise, when a summary film is made, pre-reading materials are edited to boost charisma and energy, and, follow up training is delivered by live webinar, the live and virtual costs can be averaged out. When we otimize the cost of classroom and virtual live exchanges and create better non-live materials, we help the finance department to approve investment in training. This then helps generate exceptional knowledge retention to please the L&D department and stimulates and helps create competent and connected workers who now enjoy training sessions put on by the company.

A networked, trusting and collaborative team will beat a siloed one, every time.

Action

Please like and share if you agree with the arguments we have put forward, if you enjoy classroom training, or if, you feel that the classroom is a relevant space for learning, development and business improvement. Thanks.

Have I missed anything?

Can you add to the business case?

Please add any constructive comments that will add value to this piece. Thanks.

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a soft skills trainer working in Europe delivering dynamic group training live in the classroom.

 

Leading Across Cultures in Practice – by Fernando Lanzer Book Review

How resolving our differences shapes our culture

This book represents an overview of the differences between national cultures, and how those differences influence people’s behaviour in business, management, and, in work situations in general. The book manages to develop beyond simple work etiquette and a list of “do’s and don’ts.” Rather, it looks at the underlying values that determine how managers deal with their direct reports, how people communicate at work, what is considered a priority and what tends to be put on the back burner according to each country culture. All of this is communicated in an easy style that is not too academic or technical.

Lanzer Book Cover

Lanzer starts with a panoramic description of the basic concepts describing culture and how interest in the topic has grown due to globalization. He focuses on five of Hofstede’s dimensions and explains why he stops there and leaves out the others.

The book contains a valuable resource for trainers and intercultural enthusiasts – 150 pages describing real-life practical examples gathered from six countries that represent different types of cultures: the US and UK (Anglo Saxon cultures), Germany (Germanic cultures), the Netherlands (Dutch-Scandinavian cultures), China (Asian cultures) and Brazil (African and Latin American cultures).

These sections contain relevant stories that are directly transferable, though they could be better balanced: the section on the United States is more extensive than the part covering the UK for example.

No book is perfect and another book on dimensions and essentialism is not on the top of anyone’s list for urgent reading. And this book does not present new research, new data, or anything moving beyond culture value dimensions as an approach to understanding culture.

Near the end of the book, the author addresses some of the critical issues often raised in discussions with workshop participants: the relationship between culture values and religion and the dilemmas that each culture seeks to resolve. Lanzer has some slick and functional answers and concludes that these dilemmas are universal: what differentiates one culture from another is the way they find to resolve their main, contrasting issues.

Who should read this book?

The book will be of special interest to those getting acquainted with the topic of culture and diversity, and who seek a plain speaking and clear approach to the culture dimensions model as introduced by Professor Geert Hofstede.

Amazon link to buy the book;

https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Across-Cultures-Practice-Fernando/dp/1977620574/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509106338&sr=8-1&keywords=Leading+Across+Cultures+in+Practice

About the Author

Author Lanzer

Fernando Lanzer Pereira de Souza is a Dutch Brazilian psychologist and consultant who worked in AMRO Banco Real in HR & L&D in Brazil.

He founded the leadership and OD consulting firm LCO Partners 10 years ago with his wife Jussara who is also a psychologist and consultant.

He travels the world servicing his clients and visiting his four daughters who live on different Continents. Fernando is a former member and Chair of AIESEC International’s Supervisory Group. He now sits on the Board of Trustees of ISA – the International School of Amsterdam.

12 Training Film Clips – Culture, Leadership and Teams – Resources For Your Classroom

Training Resource Films – Intercultural Exchange, Diversity in Work, Leadership and Coaching, Conflict and Debate & the Power of the Individual in Business.

12 Films to use in your classroom

12 Films to use in your classroom

1, Wild Tales (2014) 6 Tales of Revenge. Directors – Pedro Almadova & Damian Szifran

Training Themes; Revenge, risk taking, morality in business and relationships

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNURIZWLm1M&list=PLhbb3wdghNhRk69plSRI2BMy5aXING4G-&index=1

2, The BP Coffee Spill – Humourous Metaphor – UCB Comedy Channel Team

Training Theme – Introducing a difficult topic into the training room.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AAa0gd7ClM

3, Morning Glory (2010) – First Meeting Scene – Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton. Directed by Roger Michell

Training Themes; Multi – Focus orientation, assumptions about youth, change, active listening, testing authority & managing in chaos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWrw5ogawS8

4, Recursos Humanos (2013) Rosio Manzano, Xavier Pamies, Director Juan Alvarez Llados

Training Themes, Sexual harassment, trading favours, wielding power and gender assumptions, bias and prejudice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS7PM9AUFjQ

5, Deloitte Diversity & Inclusion in Business (2015) Deloitte University Press

Training Theme – Diversity, inclusion, values in business

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G0OUHnCudw

6, House of Cards (2014) Frank Underwood Ruthlessness Kevin Spacey, Netflix

Training Theme – Power, corruption, manipulation & ethics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5Ha3IWeXOo

7, Suits – A Different Kind of Power – Donna Poulson – Sarah Rafferty, Netflix

Training Theme – Alternative sources of power, female roles – defined, prescribed and actual in business.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfX_lXvi008

8, The Intern (2015) – Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway

Training Theme – Age discrimination & diversity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6p2exVZttE

9, Erin Brokovich (2000) – Julia Roberts, Veanne Cox. Directory Steven Soderburgh – “F*cking Ugly Shoes”

Training Theme – Social status, educational prejudice and the consequences of assumptions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZMg4vFcRQs

10, Andrew Stanton (Writer of Toy Story) – The Clues in the Story TED (2014)

McGregor the…

Training Theme – Reputation, story telling & humour.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxDwieKpawg

11, Finding Forrester (2000) Murray F. Abrahams, Rob Brown, Sean Connery. Director – Gus Van Sant

Training Themes; Assumptions about scholarship students and social status,

white privilege, institutional compliance, rules, power & race.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSnraJOeOyM

12, Any Given Sunday (1999) – Motivation Speech – Al Pacino. Director – Oliver Stone

Training Themes – Responsibility, consequences, reputation, coaching, leadership, accountability, sacrifice, personal choice, motivation, power & salvation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_iKg7nutNY

Please share and let us spread the word.

A Big thanks to all those that contributed to this list and those that took the time to prepare the work for YouTube.

Pride, Prejudice & Privilege in the USA

A cultural opinion piece about the US Election written by Matthew Hill

Manhattan at sunset Turn to clear vision…

When two polar opposites face off together we get – Option A – a de-escalation of tension achieved through understanding and reconciliation and, Option B – Resistance, mud slinging and an active ramping up of cold or hot conflict.

In this piece we will explore option A…

The Swinging Diversity Pendulum

The US election campaign was a war – no doubt about it. Barbs were tossed from both sides with little regard for casualties or collateral damage.

As interculturalists, we understand the concept of privilege, power and what their use can do to the “other”.

The last 8 years have seen genuine gains for diversity, engagement and inclusion. Take, for example, the Transgender agenda – from a near zero mainstream consciousness in 2008 to reality TV and the Amazon Prime award winning series, Transparent now.

Looking back (there has been a lot of looking back…) the darker side of the liberal advance was hubris – manifest in dismissive and pejorative descriptions of the “other” and here lay the seeds of their defeat.

Dismissing does not lead to disappearance

Trashing the opposition’s intelligence was never the way to go – Imagine the emotions felt if the Left to Right labels – stupid, uneducated, white working class, bigots and racists where substituted for Right to Left insults – How outraged would the intelligentsia have been?

It takes two sides to build polar opposites and thus diminish the space for dialogue.

Swing

When the media take up the cause of the “mindful”, we know that tolerance of the liberal agenda pendulum is at the top of its swing. And guess what? It is now falling the other way. Those whose privilege is seen to be under threat will not give up their status without a fight. And in the election we saw that fight. The tide of resentment, backlash and frustration from the ridiculed right is seen in support for outlandish and extreme protectionist measures.

Cultural Relativity

By claiming the moral high ground and naming the people in the White House and media as “thinking, caring and correct” – these labels made the other side collectively and relatively; “stupid, cruel and wrong”. Just as with Brexit in the UK, these shamed people feel they have genuine grievances and are attracted to more extreme solutions.

Exclusion not Inclusion

One take on the scenario is that Middle America has been abandoned by both sides and feels intense pain – lower quality low paying jobs, less money left at the end of the week and unanswered questions about how to reverse the local economic decline of the past 30 years.

Bad or Bad?

The Republicans have behaved appallingly towards Obama and with little regard towards helping the mechanism of Government itself – pursuing a spiteful agenda of zero cooperation. The Democrats have not been blameless either. They have not addressed the local issues faced by the population – low wages, sub-prime fraud, mass house foreclosures and the alienation of the squeezed middle. They have supported Big Money instead.

It is with universal disgust that Americans see Washington as Hollywood for ugly people bargaining for their own self-interest at the cost of the Nation and with no Hollywood happy ending in sight. Trump can be forgiven from thinking, “anything is better than this.” His extraordinary ability to transcend his own privilege, tax avoidance, sexual abuse scandals, serial strategic bankruptcies and contrived conspiracies against opponents to convince people that his philosophy is the best for his country, speaks volumes about the angst and frustration of a vast sway of voters.

Bald Eagle Make America Great Again?

The Dream

“Make America Great Again” – panned by the liberal elite as crass and by many minorities for whom the 1960’s and before where a long nightmare of oppression and exploitation.

The nostalgia pitch seemed to work. Harking back to the halcyon days of the 1950s;

*Vast sexy cars, modern homes crammed with labour saving consumer gadgets and obedient housewives helping the bread winner to a cocktail and having supper ready for him when he returned from a not too arduous but highly rewarded day’s work at the office.

*Smoking, whisky, employing secretaries for their looks, a marriage bar for many office roles and a good time had by (NOT) all.

*Pool parties and picnics – It was not actually the case for the majority then and certainly it is only reality for a privileged few now.

*For many – their role in this world was as the unloved support, with no choice but to accept the inequality that kept this show on the road.

(If you think nostalgia is the way to go, I have one image for you that may blur your halcyon vision of the past – 18th Century dentistry!)

Push and Pull.

If the Pull of nostalgia was a fantasy, the Push was more urgent and keenly felt. The protest was against the political insanity of Congress, the economic consequences of Globalisation, the death of regional metal bashing in America and the starkly contrasting figures – the USA has about 5% of the world’s population and accounts for about 23% of the world’s GDP. “How then”, asked 60 million Americans, “can I not afford to pay my ever-increasing health insurance premiums?”

Add to this the unpunished crimes of the sub prime housing scandal where the biggest banks were bailed out and rewarded for their immoral exploitation of US working citizens whilst the average Joe and Joanna were not helped out in any way as they experienced the burning shame of house foreclosure. This dark chapter was remembered by many.

Changing the game

For DJT to win against the tide of the media is nothing short of extraordinary. His bizarre and extreme statements gained enormous airtime. His conspiracy theories laid waste to opponents and his nationalist rhetoric resonated with the dispossessed – pushing a complete outsider to the most important job in the world.

With Facebook fake news, a departure from facts and proof (post-truth) and the wildest campaign promises seen since Hitler, the ground was set for a revolution in a country still seeing itself as a Democracy.

The real marketing miracle was for a man tide to Big Money and an address book that went right the way to the top to convince Middle America that he was one of them and would serve their desperate needs for jobs, better wages and a return to easier times. The push and pull must have spun heads.

And with a little help from the Democrats

Many commentators where offering the advice; “the lesser of two evils”. Looking back, this may not have been the MOST appetizing choice at the ballot box. It was matched in the 2002 French Presidential elections by the, “vote for the criminal, not the racist!” slogan that WORKED and got Jacque Chirac elected back as President of France.

Hilary had a ton of baggage to carry around with her on the campaign trail – a list of dubious business connections and dealings, a propensity for war and shameless connections with Big Money. And a less that world changing promise that NOTHING would change.

That and an old man sitting in a blue “court dock” behind his wife during the TV presidential debates looking on with a tired and stony face whilst the most sordid chapters of US Presidential history were dredged up again and flung about the debating hall.

We guess that Bernie Saunders made a pact with Hilary a couple of years ago to mop up the next generation and anti-Hilary liberals and hand these free thinkers over to the Hilary camp at the last minute – A cynical move too far?

What of the Future?

DJT’s Roosevelt / Keynsian infrastructure investment proposal – enormous sums of printed and borrowed money will keep the country calm for now – Nobel Prize winning , Joseph Stieglitz, points out though that the innovation and new industries that will drive US growth will be very light on labour and will fail to provide the promised vast increase in new jobs or a general improvement in the quality of living for most beyond giving them new domestic, leisure and work based gadgets to buy.

New jobs will be created. The majority, however, will be in construction and will be accompanied by minimum wages, poor working condition and little dignity – Not quite the dream of 1950s Hollywood as seen with John Ham in Madmen.

Ripples around the world

Overseas, the French Presidential election will be the first barometer of the world’s reaction to DJT. Before we saw Slovakia, Austria, Poland take a clear step to the right. Who will be next to join them?

One cent coins and Dollar banknotes Big money or local income?

Conclusion

Forget the FBI last minute e mail actions, computer voting fraud, the Popular vote and Russian interference – DJT’s rhetoric about immigration, closing borders and his promise to create jobs for regular people is what the frustrated and unheard responded to.

All that has come before has lead to the nice folks of the USA listening to these words and taking notice.

A sobering thought for all of us.

 

Country Cultural Stereotypes – Are they out of date?

Bipolar or 3D?

Here is a thought provoking post to kick of the month. If you are prone to displaying strong emotions – you will enjoy this article as there is something for everybody to react to…

I am still surprised to see intercultural diagrams showing bipolar dimensions populated with country flags. The historical starting point for this was the pioneering work at IBM carried out by Dr. Geert Hofstede. His premise was that countries were a valid and useful unit of comparative culture and that, further more, over time they have produced unique conditions that, in turn, shape country cultures. Additionally we were told that country culture is, mostly, a constant and unchanging phenomenon.

collage of people on the phone

Technology is changing culture.

BEFORE

The thoughts and filters of scientists and engineers are subconsciously influenced by their environment. Certainly various conditions present in the 1960’s helped to support early interculture theory.

When viewed from the present day, populations 50 or 60 years ago were relatively sedentary. Air transport was prohibitively expensive and not available to all, the Iron Curtain was in place, China was closed and the technology did not exist to promote affordable multicultural exchange or the viable existence of remote and virtual teams. There were many fewer transnational corporations and, most importantly of all, social ranking represented the status quo and this norm was not questioned or challenged as much as it is today – more on that later.

NOW – while there are many aspects of modern life that disgust us – perpetual war, wealth inequality and massive social injustice, there also exist things that represent forces for liberation and progress. A byproduct of these positive changes is that we can enjoy a more holistic view of culture.

Borders – A hundred year’s ago, French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot and Brit, Sir Mark Sykes secretly settled the political areas of influence in Asia Minor drawing up a new map favouring government expedience over cultural sensitivity. This document demonstrated the awesome power wielded by posh white men. The resulting map was to have profound consequences for the whole of the Middle East. The effects of its creation continue to be felt today.

Travel – The availability of travel is exemplified by my children. They can match their age with the number of countries visited – It is now taken as part of their human right to move and experience geographical contrasts. Cheap airlines, airbnb and cash machines facilitate the massive modern movement of people. And, 2004 and 2014 had profound effects on the movement of people seeking employment within the EU countries.

Technology – virtual videoconference equipment, Skype and Facetime are shrinking the world and giving us access to more experience – instantly. A trivial example happened a few Christmases ago – we had a Facetime call and saw into a German home – with real candles alight on a Christmas tree. We even joined in the singing. And, we did not have to leave London to experience this.

Awareness and diversity – the secret and overt revolution that is moving culture training away from sophisticated country stereotypes toward something more nuanced and layered centres on diversity. Via education and experience, we are moving from acceptance of social rank, to question and investigate both privilege and marginality. We are looking for answers. Pioneering work in this field has enabled a mindful generation to form and own their identity based on more than 70 aspects of diversity, moving us beyond country of origin.

In some cases this represents a journey from oppression to deeper community membership.

Dogged communication is exposing the mechanisms and social cost of old colonial systems and historical country power structures. This is creating possibilities for many, formerly excluded, people.

Social media – put simply, the democratic forces of the web can transcend the historic barriers of class, education, wealth or gender oppression. The absence of a dominant country passport is no longer fatal. More are allowed participate in the richness of our world via travel and virtual connectivity

Group of friends having fun together outdoors

What is possible now?

The FUTURE

So, in the last 60 years we have moved from a rigid white Anglo Saxon Protestant male authored power map with its world of self drawn borders and fixed countries, to a richer and increasingly multifaceted reality where each individual’s net privilege and marginality combine with other connections and relationships to give currency and access to virtual communities, education and economic possibilities.

On offer is membership of something shared and beyond being from a winning or losing country.

The shift from dimensions to a world of 3 dimensional participation makes the bipolar scales used by interculturalists look a little dusty – like a museum exhibit.

 

Polish Heroes A Book review; Tim Bridgman “Positively Disappointed – Business Across Cultures in Poland”, Szkolenia Lodz, 2015

When I was handed the manuscript for Positively Disappointing, I thought the title was brave. Having personally experienced the negative language and assumed pessimism of Poland’s neighbour, The Czech Republic, some 20 years ago, I was keen to read of Tim’s experience and his analysis of the country’s culture as it exists in modern regional Poland.

The Culture of Poland

The Culture of Poland

This short and pithy book has 9 fictionalised stories that are based on the author’s real life experiences over the last decade.

By not attempting an opus major or tackling the whole of Polish culture, Tim has given us an accessible doorway via a foreigner’s Polish experience. With chapters about the ordering of coffee, being a disappointed vegetarian or, the enthusiastic cyclist, taking his life literally in his hands, Tim filters his perceptions through Hofstede’s dimensions and allows us to draw our own conclusions.

The main thrust of the book is post-Soviet Poland’s EU membership, the outflow of Polish talent and the influx of foreign investment. The author develops an argument for a genuinely changing culture with the challenges this presents for both foreign and Polish managers running businesses and leading people in markedly different ways.

The book works because of Tim’s vulnerable and honest confessions – the mistakes of a naïve outsider, and his even-handed treatment of the stories that are remembered.

The beginning of the book gives lesser-known historical facts – the post-war persecution of a Ukrainian minority and the expulsion of the sizeable German population.

I found the book to be a little light on the specific inheritance of the Soviet years and not to say enough about the catholic contribution to the Polish psyche. Having said this, the tome achieves its objectives and stimulates the mind whilst informing the reader about the local zeitgeist.

Who should read this book?

British and overseas managers who have worked for a couple of months in Poland and overcome their initial trauma will benefit from picking up this book, enjoying the stories and contemplating answers to the questions posed at the end of each chapter.

An English – Polish glossary is a very sensible addition and makes this sometimes esoteric book easily accessible to any Pole that wishes to see the foreigner’s point of view.

In conclusion, the author has done Poland and foreign managers a favour by producing a functional book that combines fact, reflective exercises and stories that can genuinely help build bridges across nations and prevent a few escalating culture and commercial clashes in regional offices around Poland.

The book comes out in February –