The Five Worst Habits for Communication

  Communication is the lifeblood of relationships, personal and business. The health of an organization can be measured in how it communicates not only internally but externally. Bad communication habits can be sneaky and costly. It is easy to fall into bad habits without realizing how detrimental they can be. For example, my client told me the social media expert hired to manage the online presence for the firm quit. She refused to do any more work because of the way a member of the firm treated her. Snarky, disrespectful, curt communication did not sit well with this valuable resource. Do these five bad habits sabotage your organization? 1)      Respond with “Yes, but….” This is a reactive reply that implies the listener already has the best solution to the issue. It’s an argumentative stance which does not respect the point of view of the other. This is a good way to shut down any constructive dialogue.   2)      “You Talk Too Much” by Joe Jones, a popular 1960 song describes it best.  How can you get another perspective when you are doing all the talking all the time? Not possible. Besides that, for introverts on your team it’s exhausting to be bombarded by a steady stream of chatter. Joe Jones You talk too much – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GOYYbiEul0 3)      Allow distractions, electronic and otherwise. In meetings, when people are distracted by phone calls, emails and text messages, it says “What you are saying is not important to me.” No one likes to be disrespected.   4)      Hide behind technology. Cryptic text messages, for example, can be easily misinterpreted. An important element...

Why Leaders’ Words Matter…..A Lot

It is true. Words are free. Underestimating their power is costly.                                Haven’t we all said something we later regretted? In some cases, we are unaware of the impact of our words for good or ill. Words have power; choose them wisely. Business leaders, for example, unwittingly stymie creative thinking with “Have you thought about this ______?” How can a simply question shut down the very behavior a leader wants to encourage? By virtue of your position as the leader, your words carry significant weight. From the boss, “Have you thought about this….” is more a directive than a question. When the boss suggests something that’s permission to act without owning the decision. If the action has a bad outcome, it wasn’t your idea. After all, the boss told you to do it, right? Command and control is an efficient style of leadership. First, the boss knows best and he has the path to success mapped out. The only thing employees have to do is show up to do what they are told. Thinking, creativity and innovation are not valued. These behaviors can be messy. In addition, it’s difficult to engage people when the only idea that matters is the boss’s idea. Businesses with this culture have a track record of high defection. Make the most of the words you choose. Flattery and hyperbole hold empty promises which are easily detected. Blatant lies and falsehoods—well, no need to state the obvious. Use your words to build an engaged team that understands how they contribute to your company’s success. These questions are a good place to start. Five questions every good...

What Experts Are Saying About Employee Reviews

Employee reviews are not only time consuming, they are also dreaded by the giver and the receiver. How can an employee review be truly useful with so much fear and loathing? Saving your feedback for an annual review, reminds me of “Wait until your father comes home.” There is a better way. Such companies as Goldman Sachs, IBM, Accenture, Adobe, GE, and Microsoft have revamped the employee review process. The annual performance appraisal may be going the way of the dinosaur. The intent of the employee review is to help people improve job performance. With improved job performance, they make a bigger contribution to the success of the company. When they are aligned with the vision, mission and values of the company, employees are engaged. They see what they do matters. They are more likely to want to stay. It’s expensive to have a revolving door of employees who seek employment where they feel appreciated. Seven steps to improve employee reviews: 1)      Have clarity about what an employee is expected to do to contribute to the success of the company. 2)      Create goals that are simple, measurable and important. 3)      Transform feedback to coaching regularly and frequently. 4)      Use a monthly to quarterly schedule to coach [a.k.a. give feedback] your team. 5)      Make it a two way conversation: “How can I help you?” and “What do you need from me?” 6)      Separate coaching and compensation. 7)      Develop a nonthreatening, feedback rich environment. When you have frequent meetings with your team to provide coaching, you set up an environment of trust. With the purpose to support employees not to punish them, you...

10 Ways to Outsmart the Saboteurs of Your Vision and Goals

Having an inspiring vision and well-crafted goals are no guarantee your business will achieve them. It is often the norm to put a vision and goals on the shelf so you can get back to work. This frustrates people, especially if they have been part of the process to craft the vision and define the goals. Nothing changes. People you need for your business to succeed lose heart. This is expensive and leaders lose credibility. The root of the problem is people, even smart people, are willing to tolerate the current reality rather than experience change. Asking someone to change, even if it’s beneficial to them and the organization, is losing something. This is scary. When people are afraid, they do what is necessary to return to “normal.” Recently I worked with a division in a large organization. We created a vision and the objectives, goals and strategies to achieve the mission and to move closer to the vision. It is hard to do this important work. The management team and staff did a remarkable job. At the conclusion of our second day together, I asked them to answer the following question, ”In order to move closer to our vision and to achieve the goals we have set, what is it ‘we must do’ and what is it ‘we must not do?’” The following are their responses: WE MUST DO……… 1. Embrace the direction of change with honest display of values 2. Review the goals, objectives and strategies monthly to stay on track 3. Be disciplined and focus on the work and time frames that are set 4. Listen...

Why Giving Is Risky But Worth It

Giving is a worthy endeavor. It has its downsides, however. It can be dangerous on the high road of giving. Adam Grant writes in Give and Take that givers are some of the most successful people. There is more. Givers are on the other end of the spectrum, too. They are the least successful. If your time, money, and creativity are flowing in only one direction, away from you, it’s a set up for burnout and depletion. To do your best work, you cannot be operating on an empty tank. When I think of giving, I am reminded of my dear friend. She looks for ways to give just because she can. It is her nature. Plus, she is brilliant at her work in the field of communication with a lot to offer. She takes giving to an extreme. So much so her bank account is on life support; her health is at risk; she is baffled. It is so natural to her she does not understand why everyone else does not operate with the same generosity. Well, they don’t. And, that’s the problem. People interact in different ways. Using Grant’s model, there are three types of social interaction: 1) giver—expect no payback; 2) taker—get more than they give; and 3) matcher— keep the exchange even. The lines between these approaches to interacting with people are blurred. In the work place the takers are the norm. It’s mostly a zero-sum game. For you to win, someone must lose. To me, giving seems the best way to go. Especially because some of the most successful people I know and admire...

5 Tips for Smart Marketing

Business owners know marketing is a key element in a successful business. However, many lose sight of the impact of internal thinking patterns. These affect your marketing efforts in powerful ways. Like the submerged part of an iceberg, they are invisible and important. 5 Tips for Smart Marketing from the Inside Out: 1)      Passion. With a love for the work you are doing, obstacles and challenges cannot derail you. Passion is not the only thing to building a successful business. However, it is foundational. 2)      Confidence. Your unshakeable belief in the value you provide to your clients, equips you to share what you have to offer. You have a responsibility to tell people how you can help them. 3)      Commitment. Marketing takes time, effort and resources. Are you willing to give more than lip service to effective marketing? 4)      Understanding. Everyone is not your ideal client. Being all things to all people dilutes your efforts. In the eyes of the customer, your value is diminished. 5)      Courage. When you see that the customer is not willing to do the work that is his to do, be willing to walk away from the deal. Everyone loses in a no-win relationship. Keep in mind that passion alone is not enough to succeed in business. It is the foundation. You have a responsibility to share with people how you can help them. A bedrock confidence in the value of your product, equips you to do so. With the commitment to market effectively, passion and confidence make a difference. Focus marketing efforts on your clearly defined client. Courageously say “no” to a no-win...