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Aug
22

Empathy vs. Sympathy

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Many of us confuse empathy with sympathy. Sympathy is feeling for a person. Empathy is feeling with a person—an important distinction. When we’re empathic, we not only put ourselves in others’ shoes, we go a step further and imagine the world from their perspective.

Humans have an innate ability to do this. The mirror neurons in our brains pick up other people’s conscious and unconscious cues. This triggers our own feelings and thoughts, allowing us to align with others. Our brain waves actually sync.

Interestingly, my work with younger executives down in the pitoften reveals high empathy in emotional intelligence. When coaching these younger executives, we talk about the dark side of empathy – sympathy – and how they would know the difference. I further explain empathy with the analogy of a friend being stuck in a pit. Empathy is when you stand on the edge of the pit and help your friend climb out. Sympathy is when you get into the pit (or fall in) with your friend. Any effort to get out is futile and perhaps the pit gets deeper.

Sympathy has its place when appropriate, but empathy is critical if your goals include persuading others, reaching mutually beneficial solutions, or building connection and influence.

Members of high-performing teams consistently show high levels of empathy for one another. They care enough to ask:

  • What makes you who you are?
  • What do you really care about?

Mastering Everyday Empathy

Authors Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar offer three key guidelines for everyday empathy in Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate, and Inspire (Gotham Books, 2004). The first guideline is to:

  • Learn what makes a person tick.
 Make it a goal to find out more about people: what they like, what they dislike, and what they are passionate about. The mere act of asking a question or two clears the way for future conversations and collaboration. It doesn’t take much time, doesn’t annoy anyone (unless done inappropriately) and can be FUN. Of course, it’s easier with people you like and more difficult with someone you dislike or mistrust. Try it with a wide range of people to see how asking questions improves communication.

Empathic Executives = Great Places to Work and Great Profits

When working with executive teams, I observe their interactions in the boardroom with one another and when receiving information and feedback from their employees and customers. I bring their attention to examples of deep active listening and how raising their level of empathy will engage high performance throughout their organization.

I also observe examples of empathy in the daily interactions of employees with their peers and their customers. The positive effects of a high level of empathy in an organization can be seen in employee engagement and peak performance; and in customer reviews, loyalty, and referrals. The overall return on investment is a great place to work and great profits.

Measuring Your Level of Empathy

How well you ask questions of others and really get to know the people you work with and whom you serve is a good indication of how much you engage in empathic conversations.

Learning more about the people you work with is key. It’s not difficult, and the time and effort is priceless. An awareness and conscious effort is required as you take your empathy to a higher level. You can begin by asking yourself “How often do I start conversations with the intent to see, hear and appreciate people?”

If you are looking for qualitative measurement of your empathy and/or your executive team’s empathy, you will be interested in the emotional intelligence assessments – EQi 2.0 and EQ360.

Taking empathy to the next level in the workplace is something I focus on when working with clients to create great places to work and build great profits. Find out how to take your empathy to another level. Contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

Books and Audiobooks

The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, Third Edition, Steven J. Stein, Ph.D. and Howard E. Book, M.D.

On iTunes

Assessment for Measuring Empathy

For information about qualified administration and briefing of the following assessment, contact Patricia at patricia@maestoquality.com or call 905-858-7566

EQ – Emotional Intelligence – EQi 2.0 and EQ 360

Photo © timur1970 / photoXpress.com

Stay positive

Aug
18

Empathy in Everyday Conversations

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  • Average Reading Time: Less than 3 minutes

colleague expressing empathy in the workplaceIn a previous post, Return from the 2nd Canadian Positive Psychology Conference, I wrote about the revolutionary work being done in our educational systems to build resilience and overall state of happiness for our children. One specific workshop introduced an international organization and its two programs dedicated to building caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy are evidenced-based programs that have shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among school children while raising social and emotional competence and increasing empathy. I was led to wonder how today’s children will transform the workplace with well-developed empathic behaviour.

Empathy in Everyday Conversations

In everyday conversations – whether with friends, family or coworkers – most of us have an empathy deficit – or at least we don’t express empathy enough.

Everyone wants to be seen, heard and appreciated. However, not that many people—especially in workplaces—know how to communicate empathy so that others feel seen, heard and appreciated.

Most of us are too focused on conveying our own messages.

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection—or compassionate action.” ~ Psychologist Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships (Bantam, 2007)

“Warm and Fuzzy” in the Workplace?

Empathy isn’t defined as having warm feelings for all of humanity as we strive for peace on Earth. It’s not about “warm and fuzzy” feelings for someone else (although that may well happen). Empathy involves understanding others’ thoughts and feelings—gaining true awareness by asking questions and actively listening.

Relationships are built on empathy. Unfortunately, many people erroneously assume they’re empathetic. Poorly expressed or absent empathy leads to misunderstandings, lack of trust and uncooperative friends/family/colleagues.

Poorly expressed empathy occurs in a conversation that begins with something like “I understand how you feel.” On the other hand, well-expressed empathy begins with something like “That must be so difficult for you.” A subtle difference that changes the focus and impact.

The Consequences of Lack of Empathy

Superficial connections with colleagues are often accepted as the norm. We let superficiality slip into our relationships with friends and family. We sometimes default to using humour as a handy substitute for getting to know and understand each other. How often have you heard sarcasm used to minimize and trivialize a person’s feelings?

The lack of empathy has wide-reaching consequences. No one intends to keep others at a distance, but that’s what happens when we pay insufficient attention to others’ emotions. Perhaps we’re afraid of coming across as overly touchy-feely and go to the other extreme: relying on logic and common sense, ignoring all feelings. Neither extreme benefits our relationships or communication efforts.

Communication is never a one-way street. While people want to hear what you have to say, they are more interested in knowing that you care about them. Theodore Roosevelt said it well: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Connecting Empathy with Trust and Influence

Empathy lubricates authentic connections, allowing us to build trust and influence. It requires more than just seeing and feeling. It’s more than simply “walking in the other’s shoes.” It’s about describing every blister and cut, every triumphant step. It’s mirroring the other person’s experience.

A measure of empathy exists as part of your Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Perhaps there ought to exist a measure of empathy as part of your IQ and as part of learning to be conversationally intelligent. Programs like Seeds of Empathy and Roots of Empathy are giving our children a good head start. Just like verbal and mathematical abilities, you can improve your empathy skills.

Taking empathy to the next level in the workplace is something I focus on when working with clients to create great places to work and build great profits. Find out how to take your empathy to another level. Contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

Books and Audiobooks

The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, Third Edition, Steven J. Stein, Ph.D. and Howard E. Book, M.D.

On iTunes

Assessment for Measuring Empathy

For information about qualified administration and briefing of the following assessment, contact Patricia at patricia@maestoquality.com or call 905-858-7566

EQ – Emotional Intelligence – EQi 2.0 and EQ 360

Photo © Orange Line Media | Fotolia.com

Stay positive

Average reading time: 2 minutes

Maintaining Excellence in Uncertain Times

Nothing is as difficult as managing in uncertain times. My clients tell me that the rapidly changing competitive environment and new technologies make it difficult to keep up adding insurmountable stress for themselves, their leadership team, employees, and their families.

StressedManaging people well is even more challenging when you’re constantly putting out fires. How are you supposed to bring out the best in your people when no one has a cue as to what will happen tomorrow?

Draw on your core values and lessons learned along the way. Embrace a plan like the Hallowell Cycle of Excellence. Perhaps one of the five steps is going unfulfilled. An employee may not be in the right job or may not be sufficiently challenged. See previous blogs on the topic of Steps to Build Peak Performance starting with Step 1. The Right Fit.

A plan is a mooring to use during times of crisis and chaos—a strategy for redirecting energies in the right direction. Your plan can be used to correct course. My clients are familiar with my philosophy that you can’t sacrifice performance in the name of speed, cost-cutting, efficiency, and what can be mislabeled as necessity. When you ignore connections in your planning, deep thought disappears in favour of decisions based on fear.

The five areas of focus in the Cycle of Excellence can help you avoid fear-based management practices which have the potential to disable you and create barriers for the people you lead. Use the Cycle of Excellence to identify problem areas and decide on a plan of action. Stick to your plan.  Demonstrate commitment to the plan even when you need to revise.  In this way you and your employees can creatively manage for growth not just survival.

I’ve learned from my clients just how hard it is to bring out the best in people. This very challenge is the reason why so many smart leaders value and use executive coaching in addition to consulting.

  1. What do you think about this?
  2. What’s been your own experience managing for peak performance?
  3. Have you read all 5 steps for building peak performance?

Stay positive

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  • Average Reading Time: Less than 3 minutes

Previous blogs have summarized the first 4 steps in the Cycle of Excellence and referenced in the book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011).

Recap: Dr. Hallowell, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience to present the Cycle of Excellence process and the 5 steps to build peak performance:

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.  
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

We continue with the fifth step.

Step 5: Shine

I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health. –Voltaire-

Poster on client’s Health & Safety Bulletin Board

People rarely give out too much appreciation. In my work with leaders and executive teams implementing Quality Management Systems and Healthy Workplace programs, I witness the emphasis on identifying deficits, gaps, and non-compliance.  Mistakes, unsatisfactory performance, and non-conforming processes get too much attention. Overwhelming energy is spent on analyzing weaknesses and attributing blame.

Not enough attention is given to recognizing strengths, talents, and attitudes. An analysis of what is working well and celebratory meetings focused on attributing praise is rare in the workplace. Yet research shows most people learn better from positive reinforcement of success than focusing on improving weaknesses. Every employee should feel recognized and valued for what he or she does well.

 “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”  Alexander Pope, “Essay on Criticism”

I would add to this quote: To acknowledge successes, divine!

People learn from mistakes and continue to develop when their successes are noticed and acknowledged. Letting them know that you appreciate efforts and victories large and small will motivate them to shine.

Ironically, when a person is underperforming or otherwise disengaged, lack of recognition may be the root cause. An employee will rarely come right out and tell you that she feels undervalued.  It’s one of those dreaded conversations that people avoid while the issue festers.  An astute leader and manager will be alert for the subtle signs that an employee is suffering.

Preventive and Predictive Action

I encourage my executive clients to follow a process of preventive and predictive action rather than fighting fires when employees disengage and problems arise:

  • Be on the lookout for moments when you can catch someone doing something right. It doesn’t have to be unusual or spectacular. Don’t withhold compliments.
  • Be generous with praise. People will pick up on your use of praise and positive acknowledgment and will begin to emulate for themselves and each other.
  • Recognize attitudes as well as achievements. Optimism and a growth mindset are two attitudes to single out and encourage. Look for other desirable attitudes.

Notice that the above actions have a positive-focus aka “positive psychology interventions”.

Positive Psychology Interventions

Insights from the recent Canadian Positive Psychology Conference in Ottawa validated positive-focused interventions. Try a few simple positive psychology interventions to add praise and positive acknowledgement to your workplace culture:

  • Begin your meetings with “what’s going well”.  End with “what we learned today”.  Best Practice: Make it safe for everyone to engage in positive feedback.
  • Install a Gratitude Bulletin Board beside your Health and Safety Bulletin Board.
  • Post-the-positive on your Employee Communications Board on a regular basis including positive affirmations; acknowledgements; employee achievements behind the scenes and outside the workplace; and positive news. Based on personal experience with clients and their employees’ response, I guarantee this one positive intervention will stoke your employees’ desire to excel and shine.

Simple interventions promoting positive psychology in the workplace are good for business; the workplace; and the community.  Everyone has a right to flourish.

When you’re in sync with your people, you create positive energy and opportunities for peak performance. Working together can be one of life’s greatest joys—and it’s what we’re wired to do.  Watching people grow and excel can be most gratifying – it’s what leaders are wired to do.

What do you think about this?

  • Are you watching for and acknowledging what is going well?
  • Are you modeling a culture of praise and positive feedback
  • Are you going beyond your workplace celebrities and acknowledging the work been done behind the scenes and bright lights?

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes

Stay positive

A view of the Parliament Buildings from the Chateau Laurier

A view of the Parliament Buildings from the Chateau Laurier.  Photo taken by Patricia A. Muir

  • Less than 400 words
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  • 54-second video link

I returned from the 2nd Canadian Positive Psychology Conference with exciting insights to share with my clients who, like me, are committed to making the workplace a better place for everyone.

My intentions were satisfied beyond expectations with an array of presentations and activities that support peak performance and flourishing individuals.

Kudos to Educators

Although my focus for learning was related to the workplace, I was “wowed” by the work being done in our educational systems. Positive Psychology “intervention strategies” are helping educators and their students build strong psychological and emotional foundations.  Students around the world are being introduced to a different way of navigating life that contributes to their resilience and overall state of happiness. Kudos to all those educators who are open to a new way of thinking and new strategies for developing our future leaders at home, at work, and in our communities.

Post-traumatic Growth and Return-to-Work Policy

At the CPPA conference, I gravitated toward the intriguing concept of “Post-traumatic Growth”. I have been researching post-traumatic growth since experiencing first-hand how grieving and critical illness affects performance and how it relates to return-to-work issues and policy. In future blogs, I will present the research and the practical application of this concept in the workplace. I intend to increase awareness around what happens when your peak performers experience a traumatic event or a critical illness. I will challenge the status quo and the management attitude and platitude of “business-as-usual”. I will present strategies and interventions that are good for business, good for the workplace, and good for the community? And, let’s not forget good for the individual. Everyone has the right to flourish!

Let’s Play for Peak Performance

If you have read recent blogs about peak performance, you will appreciate this 54-second Silent Disco video clip that reinforces the many benefits of play at work. Turn up the volume to hear my voice describing the event.  You won’t hear the music.  I leave that to your imagination.  We truly “broke out” inside and outside the Chateau Laurier with an activity called “Silent Disco”.   As we paraded our dance outside the hotel to music heard only through our personal headphones, we attracted crowds of Ottawa visitors at the height of tourist season. I am sure we were branded as crazy Canadians even though CPPA conference attendees came from all over the world.

Silent Disco is an activity that is spreading like flash-mobs; in parks; on school campuses; at public events; and workplace events. A major benefit is the mind-body connection to induce creativity and peak performance. Learn more about Silent Disco at www.silentdisco.com .

Coming up in the next blog.  The final step in 5 Steps to Build Peak Performance – #5 Shine.  Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your the desire to excel.

Stay positive

  • Less than 650 words
  • Average Reading Time: Less than 3 minutes

In previous blogs, I have summarized the first three steps of the Cycle of Excellence referenced in the book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011).

Dr. Hallowell, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience to present the Cycle of Excellence process for getting the best from your people and providing optimal working conditions for peak performance.

To recap, the following are the 5 Steps to Build Peak Performance.

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.   
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

Today’s blog continues with the fourth step.

Step 4: Grapple and Grow

growFollowing up on Step 3. Play, people will eagerly stretch beyond their usual limits when there is a supportive environment to engage imaginatively with tasks they like and at which they excel.

If tasks are too easy or too routine, people fall into boredom and apathy. If there is no encouragement, opportunity, or a safe environment for creative and critical thinking, people will follow rules and regulations with blind compliance or perhaps worse, they become lone rangers or saboteurs wreaking havoc for everyone.  With the latter, no one makes progress, learns anything new, or contributes with peak performance.

Your job, as a leader or manager, is to be a catalyst.  When people get stuck, ask powerful questions to engage their creative and critical-thinking. Offer a few suggestions and then let them work out solutions.

The Right Environment for Grapple-and-Grow

Provide a physical environment that inspires and induces a different way of thinking and a different approach to finding solutions.  One of my clients set up different “creative-thinking” zones throughout the workplace where employees can switch their brains from routine operational work to more strategic and creative work.  The zones are designed for grapple-and-grow experiences that are fun.  Two zones incorporate physical play, a basketball hoop and a foosball table.  Other zones offer solitary or team challenges along with mental and physical challenges.

growing

Another client has yearned for a place where she could focus solely on her strategic-thinking away from the distractions of routine deskwork and other interruptions. Getting past the initial inertia of needing to make the space perfect-before-use was a “grapple and grow” exercise in itself providing valuable insights in how she approaches challenges.  She now sees the space as sacred, evolving, and a place to develop mastery.

The Grapple-and-Grow concept is as important, if not more important, in work that is routine and structured such as administrative, accounting, and front-line service.  Encouraging a different way of thinking and a different approach to finding solutions adds energy to work that can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.  It’s in the process of finding a different way that we often find the better way.  Finding the better way develops mastery.

Pressure Can Make or Break

Adding pressure to complete tasks quickly is counter to grapple-and-grow and leads to shortcuts and stress that usurp creative and critical-thinking. On the other hand, the right amount of pressure and the right amount of creativity enables employees to grapple, grow, and achieve mastery over their work.

 

What do you think about this?

  • Are there job functions that need review to avoid boredom and apathy?
  • Are you presenting meaningful challenges and allowing people to grapple and grow?
  • Are you applying the right amount of pressure to create some sparkling gems in your organization?

 

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes
Stay positive

  • Less than 760 words
  • Average Reading Time: Less than 3 minutes

Are You Having Fun at Work?

In Dr. Hallowell’s book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011), his third step in the Cycle of Excellence refers to play in providing optimal working conditions for peak performance.

To recap, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research and his own experience to present the Cycle of Excellence process for getting the best from your people:

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.   
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

One of the most important things leaders and managers can do for people is to help them expand and use their imagination.

Standards and Compliance Need a Little Creative License

My work coaching executive teams often involves rules, regulations, standards and compliance. When I begin working with my client, I often see one of two scenarios.

  1. An overemphasis on rules and regulations that blocks creative thinking and demoralizes employees who really want to perform beyond mediocrity. Bright performers are stifled when they hear “This is the way we do it around here.”  The message is “Don’t ask questions. Do it our way, or else.”  A throwback to “command and control”.
  2. Rules and regulations that are impossible to implement consistently because of a poor fit and/or the lack of commitment and energy to enforce.  The resulting message is that rules, regulations, and standards don’t really matter – it’s all lip service.  Leaders and managers lose face as employees ignore the rules and regulations.  One of the best examples I come across is the “Dress Code”.

Some would think there is no place for creative license in developing rules and regulations.  However, when implementing initiatives based on any standard, I coach my clients in interpreting the standard so that it fits and complements their business.  Forcing the business into the standard for the sake of compliance is like a forcing your foot into an ill-fitted shoe. There’s going to be pain! I stress that their work is to create policies, procedures, rules, and regulations that serve the business, the workplace environment, and the community that the business serves.

Rules and regulations that serve only to meet compliance squeeze the spark out of people, leaving them dull and disengaged.  A common symptom is the growing attitude of “I have to”.  Wouldn’t we all perform better if rules and regulations provided structure while cultivating the attitude of “I want to”?

Bear with me! You may be thinking there’s not much time or energy for socializing and having fun at work.  There is resounding evidence that much more can be accomplished with a sense of play.

In fact, the success of your business and your employees depends on it. Here’s why.

Step 3: Play

Play isn’t limited to break time. Play is any activity that involves tgroup of business people playing and being creative in the officehe imagination, lights up our brains, and produces creative thoughts and ideas.  Peak performance takes positive physical, mental, and emotional energy.  Play provides all of this by boosting morale, reducing fatigue, and bringing joy to our workdays.

Bringing play into daily workplace activities is not as difficult as some may think. Leaders and managers could encourage imaginative play more frequently with these steps:

  • Ask open-ended questions.

o   Expand thinking beyond “yes” and “no”.

  • Encourage everyone to produce three new ideas each month.

o   New ways of working.

o   New ways of making customers happy, etc.

  • Allow for irreverence or goofiness (without disrespect), and model this behaviour.

o   A breakout of laughter, song, or even dance will boost any business environment.

  • Brainstorm.

o   How can we do this better?

o   What’s missing?

  • Reward new ideas and innovations.

o   Acknowledgement with a sincere “thank you” is powerful whether in private or in public.  Small rewards often are more effective than a big production once or twice a year.  Don’t cancel your big celebrations; just add smaller and more frequent celebrations.  Make them sincere and meaningful.

  • Encourage people to question everything.

o   Accept the questions and open up for discussion.  Expand critical-thinking.  Make it safe for everyone to learn from sharing and questioning.

What do you think about this?

  1. Do you pay attention to playfulness and opportunities to be creative and imaginative?
  2. Do you have fun at work?

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes Audiobook

Fun is Good: How to Create Joy & Passion in Your Workplace & Career, Mike Veeck & Pete Williams (Rodale Books, 2005)

Photo © iStock.com / ParkerDeen

Stay positive

  • Less than 550 words
  • Average Reading Time:  Less than 2 minutes

In reading Dr. Hallowell’s book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011), I was drawn to the 2nd step of his Cycle of Excellence, about connection.

To recap, the author, a psychiatrist and behavior expert, draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience to present a process for getting the best from your people:

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure is on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

A manager or leader’s first step for bringing out the best in people is ensuring a person is well matched to a job. Step 1. The Right Fit provided many great assessment tools that help to identify an employee’s talents and strengths in order to then evaluate the fit with the tasks he or she is responsible to perform.

Now let’s turn our attention to finding connection and interpersonal relationships at work.

Step 2: Connectinterpersonal relationships in organizations

A positive working environment arises from the way leaders and managers handle negativity, failure and problems. They set the tone and model preferred behaviors and reactions. Employees take their cues from those who lead them.

Leaders, managers, and employees require a mutual atmosphere of trust, optimism, openness, transparency, creativity and positive energy. Each group can contribute to reducing toxic fear and worry, insecurity, backbiting, backstabbing, gossip and disconnection.

As a leader and manager, here’s what you can do to encourage connection:

  • Look for the spark of brilliance within everyone.
  • Encourage a learning mindset.  Share what you are learning.
  • Model and teach optimism for overall wellbeing of the employees and the organization
  • Model the belief that interpersonal relationships are key to effective teamwork and can overcome any problem.
  • Use human moments instead of relying on electronic communication.
  • Learn more about each person. Get beyond what makes them tick and learn what makes them shine.
  • Treat everyone with respect  ̶  especially those you dislike.
  • Meet people where they are and know that most will do their best with what they have.
  • Encourage reality testing.
  • Use humor without sarcasm or at others’ expense.
  • Seek out the quiet ones.  Bring them in.

In the work I do as an Executive Coach focusing on Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology in the workplace, many hours are devoted to exploring how my client wants to develop connections with and among people at work.

What do you think about this?

  1. What ways can you improve connection with your people?
  2. What resources do you need to improve interpersonal relationships with and among your employees?

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

On iTunes

The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, Third Edition, Steven J. Stein, Ph.D. and Howard E. Book, M.D.

On iTunes

Assessments for effective connection

For information about qualified administration and briefing of the following assessments, contact Patricia at patricia@maestoquality.com or call 905-858-7566

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

DISC Behaviour Assessment – Thomas International

EQ – Emotional Intelligence – EQi 2.0 and EQ 360

Stay positive

 

  • employee engagementLess than 950 words
  • Quoted Studies and Statistics
  •  Average Reading Time: Less than 5 minutes

I am fortunate to work with many talented and smart people: savvy women business owners; high-volume automotive dealer principals; dedicated surgeons and physicians; their hard-working executive teams – and their employees. The troubling trend is the unrelenting hard work and effort wasted following management gurus and fads du jour. As mentioned in a previous blog, I have seen many “quality”, “customer-experience”, and “employee-engagement” programs come and go in the past few decades. The programs are sound for building capacity and capability. However, implementation and sustainability is THE challenge. What’s the golden key?

While no management guru has found the golden key to unlocking the full panoply of human potential at work, several diverse areas of research shed new light on the possibilities.

golden key
I recently retreated to listen to the audiobook, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011). The author, Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, synthesizes such new research into five sequential steps leaders and managers can apply to maximize employees’ peak performance.

A psychiatrist and ADD expert, he draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience to present a proven process for getting the best from your people:

  1. Select: Put the right people in the right job and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.
  2. Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow: When the pressure is on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

“Neither the individual nor the job holds the magic,” Hallowell writes. “But the right person doing the right job creates the magical interaction that leads to peak performance.”

Hallowell refers to the five cited essential ingredients as “The Cycle of Excellence,” which works because it exploits the powerful interaction between an individual’s intrinsic capabilities and extrinsic environment. These ingredients will be explored in a series of blogs beginning here with “Step 1. The Right Fit”.

1. The Right Fit

A manager or leader’s first step for bringing out the best in people is ensuring a person is well matched to a job. Without that, disengagement is inevitable. People either have no interest in what they are doing or they aren’t skilled at it. Subsequently, they give little effort, apply passive resistance, or they give up entirely.

To match the right person to the right job, examine how three key questions intersect:

  1. At what tasks or jobs does this person excel?
  2. What does he/she like to do?
  3. How does he/she add value to the organization?

These questions set the stage for your employees to do well with responsibilities they enjoy. You can then determine how they will add the greatest possible value to your organization.

Better Fit; Better Performance

brain lit up

Image © ktsimage / Crestock

In a 2013, GfK’s Globobus and Monster.ca conducted a survey based on 8,000 workers in seven countries. The results highlighted that Canadian workers are the most satisfied with their jobs. However, only 24 percent of Canadians expressed that they “love their job”. Young Canadian workers under the age of 25 are most unhappy, with 13 per cent confessing that they “dislike their jobs” and think they can do better.

According to a 2005 Harris Interactive poll, 33 percent of 7,718 U.S. employees surveyed believed they had reached a dead end in their jobs and 21 percent were eager to change careers. Only 20 percent felt passionate about their work.

In a previous blog “Positive Spin on Disengaged Employees”, I shared the results of two other studies that reveal how well we are doing at focusing on better fit for better performance.

  1. 2012 Towers Watson. A study of employee attitudes and concerns around the world. 33 percent of Canadian workers are “sustainably engaged”. 24 percent are “the unsupported” – willing to put in the effort, but held back by organizational barriers.
  2. 2013 Gallup “State of the American Workplace”. A study approximately 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs. 30 million (30%) are engaged and inspired at work. We can assume they have great leaders who focus on better fit for better performance. At the other end of the spectrum are roughly 20 million (20%) employees who are actively disengaged. These employees, who have bosses from hell or leaders that make them miserable, roam the halls spreading discontent. The other 50 million (50%) American workers are not engaged. They’re just kind of present, but not inspired by their work or the people who are charged with leading them.

When so many skilled and motivated people spend decades roaming the “job” market and not building peak performance in a “career”, something is wrong. They clearly have not landed in the right outlets for their talents and strengths. Their brains never “light up”.

The better the fit, the better the performance. People require clear roles that allow them to succeed, while also providing room to learn, grow, and be challenged.

What do you think about this?

  1. Are you devoting enough time to assessing the right fit?
  2. What can you do to improve the right fit for people?
  3. What resources do you need to assess the right fit?

 
Here are a few resources to “light up” your interest and commitment to helping your employees reach peak performance.

Books and Audiobooks

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)
On iTunes

Assessments for ensuring the right fit

For information about qualified administration and briefing of the following assessments, contact Patricia at patricia@maestoquality.com or call 905-858-7566
Holland Occupational Themes (RIASEC)
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
DISC Behaviour Assessment – Thomas International

Stay positive

 

Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Ottawa

Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Ottawa

Off to Ottawa, Ontario for the

2nd Canadian Conference on Positive Psychology

July 16th – 18th

From July 16 – 18, I will join over 100 leading positive psychology experts who will reveal the latest research and best practices on the science of well-being, happiness, and human flourishing.

I will be in the great company of teachers, coaches, psychologist/psychotherapists, counsellors, social workers, researchers, organizational consultants and other professionals from across Canada and the world who want to get deep on the topic of psychological well-being and happiness. The conference goal is to share leading-edge research and best practices in the application of positive psychology across disciplines.

Applied positive psychology has been demonstrated to

  • Improve mental and physical health;
  • Deepen the quality of our relationships and strengthen team bonds;
  • Increase employee productivity, sales, creativity, and retention;
  • Identify and nurture a strengths-based approach to coaching, counselling, and performance management;
  • Improve mental health in schools;
  • Shorten the time it takes to bounce back from setbacks;
  • Provide skills to deal with stress, pain, and loss;
  • Help discover greater meaning in life.

Positive psychology is about finding ways to recognize and foster the things that lead to flourishing individuals.

I am looking forward to learning from more than 100 of the world’s top experts who have proven approaches to using positive psychology in a variety of settings.

My intentions are to…

  • Explore different formats and approaches for integrating positive psychology into our lives and the workplace
  • Walk away with practical positive psychology strategies and activities
  • Join the dialogue with other experts, researchers, and practitioners, and
  • Expand my knowledge on the latest research in positive psychology

For more information and to register: http://www.positivepsychologycanada.com/conference2014