Communication A bad game of Telephone!

communication

 

How many of you remember playing the game telephone?  If you aren’t familiar this is where you tell a friend a story and then they tell the person next to them and so on.  The fun of this game is seeing how badly mangled the story gets at the end.  I have played this game as a team building exercise and to illustrate how badly things can go when we don’t communicate well!

Recently I have experienced poor communication.  I am currently volunteering for a large event at my church. I am leading a small piece of the event and there is an overall leader who is managing the event from start to finish.  This person does not communicate well, and this is causing some issues with the team.

I experienced this first hand today with not only a bad game of telephone but also a very frustrating set of phone calls.  You see this leader had failed to communicate what was going on and then in a moment of panic started calling me several times and then when I didn’t reply in the moment sent out a larger email indicating that I wasn’t going to serve.

If this leader had simply reached out via email to indicate that there were questions and laid those out I could of replied and we would of avoided the entire issue.

This made me realize that as leaders we often think we are communicating well, but in fact we might be totally missing the boat.  We need to be humble enough to ask our team if we are doing an OK job in this area and what ways they’d like to see us improve.  Of course asking for feedback is never fun and we don’t want to hear anything negative, however in this case it kind of makes sense!!

What would happen if you had a hard deadline for a project, but you didn’t communicate that to your team, or if you did you didn’t stress that this was a deadline that couldn’t be missed.  Your team might think that this is a soft deadline and may not realize the urgency of the project.

Imagine this as a game of telephone. Your boss tells you “this project must be done by 1/4/2019”

You tell your team lead that this project should be done by 1/4/2019.  Note the key word here is is SHOULD.

Your team lead tells the team, we would really this done by 1/4/2019.

The overall sense of urgency has drastically changed simply by 1 word being changed.

As leaders our ability to communicate is often tested, and we need to continue to stop and make sure that we are not only communicating in a way that get’s us heard but in a way that allows everyone to know what’s going.

This week, find a trusted mentor or fellow leader and ask them to help you communicate better.  Ask them if they see ways you could improve and then take their feedback to heart!

Happy Feedbacking 🙂

Learned Helplessness

Reading social media today I came across an article on Learned Helplessness.  You need to google it to get a full understanding however it really struck me how this might happen to our teams.

The article I read was about horses and how they often begin to ignore pain and other stressors simply because they can’t get away.

As leaders we often want our teams to work a certain way.  We want to push them into a behavior that makes sense to us, the leader!  We either can’t or don’t want to deal with behavior that seems outside of our norm.

We punish, belittle, even use sarcasm to get behavior we want.  By doing this we often make our team become numb to their own pain.  Now there are behaviors that do not go well when working with a team, however by using punishment we often get to our results faster and with little work on our part!

Take the horse for example, Duke doesn’t like pressure.  (Pressure for horses means bad things and they react to that pressure). Horses also don’t like things they can’t process.  Noises, shifts in their vision all cause them to spook.  It is our job to get the horse to trust us to keep them safe.  We do this by exposing them to these pressures and noises and by showing them that we are keeping them safe.  We want them to trust us!  However, some people use other methods to train their horses.  They punish them, they leave them tied tightly to force the spook out of them. Horses who are trained this way learn they can’t escape and eventually become really good horses on the outside but they are no longer horses on the inside!

As leaders are we doing this to our teams? Are we tying them down to simply get behavior we want instead of teaching them to trust us.  Teaching our team to trust us means we have to make difficult decisions, we have to stand up to our leadership for our teams.  We then often have to go back to our teams and tell them we failed.  We have to show that we aren’t perfect and that is a hard thing to do!

Think about this as you lead your teams, what if you were honest with them!  What if you told them the truth that you spoke up at the last meeting but you were turned down. Or that you feel that the decision is a good one for the organization and that you support it even if it means something bad for the team?

When someone on your team works in a way that is different or in a way that maybe needs improvement, try understanding why they work that way and getting them to trust you that your way might be better?

Being a good leader isn’t about forcing people into a mold it’s about getting them to trust you and know that you have their best interest at heart!!

ICNU Challenge

HI Everyone,

As we go into Thanksgiving and start to think about the things we are thankful for I want to challenge you to find things to be thankful for in your team!

We all have that 1 employee or co-worker who annoys us greatly!  And I say that in all honesty!  If we are honest with ourselves there is always someone who is different, thinks differently or comes at the job different and it frustrates us!

At one of my recent jobs I had someone on my team who worked 8 hours a day.  That’s it, no more no less!  I work in an industry where we are always very busy!!  You just have alot to do and you just keep going until it’s done.  It wasn’t until I learned how to motivate my employee and learned to understand how his life worked that I learned how to work with him in a way that was beneficial to all of us.

I had another team member who worked really well on the tough tasks but ask him to do something mundane and he struggled.  I learned that if I made sure he had a good combination of hard and normal.

Seeing and understanding what motivates the team and how what they do benefits the team and the organization will help you work with them!

Your challenge this week is to write down the 3 employees that frustrate you the most and then write down 3 things that make them a good employee.  What gifts do they bring to the organization and how can you use those to better your team!

Potential from the Inside Out

gabi

This photo is my Sister in law.  She isn’t pretty by the worlds standards, however she has the biggest heart for those hurting in this world.

How many times as leaders have we made a snap judgement because someone looks different.  Maybe they are overweight or their teeth aren’t prefect… and we look at them and think they can’t do this job how can they lead?

What if instead of looking at what was on the outside we took a moment and reviewed the inside?  How would this look at our jobs and in our day to day lives?

As leaders we often have to make quick decisions, our teams expect us to know what’s going on and how we are to accomplish our goals, however these decisions don’t have to be made based on what we see on the outside.  We can take a moment and talk to our teams, find out what motivates them, what their goals are.

I love this quote from Brennan Manning
“To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary. Please, this is not some Pollyanna optimism that is blind to the reality of evil, but rather like a fine radar system that is tuned in to the true, the good, and the beautiful.” – Brennan Manning

As leaders our main job is to raise up those around us, sure it’s important to make the company money and reach goals, however we can’t do any of those things if we don’t have a good team and that doesn’t mean pretty! It means people who have the potential to lead and get the job done!

This week when you go into work, I challenge you to look at the people around you, the ones you don’t always see and think about what good they bring to your organization.  For example the person who cleans your office,  they may seem unimportant, but think about it your office was always dirty and you couldn’t sit down?  You couldn’t do your job!  Or the person who makes the coffee, I can’t imagine any of us think that person isn’t important!

Next get to know these folks ask they how they are, what are they doing?  Maybe she’s a student working towards a degree, or a single dad who works at night to be with his kids during the day.  Our next post will take this a step further! But for now… see the people, not what they look like but who they are!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be a Beginner!

beginner tuskey dressage

(Photo cred to Tuskey Dressage)

Why is it we always want to jump to the end of everything!  We don’t allow ourselves OR our teams to learn.  This is something that has been causing quite a bit of conversation in our family lately.  We are meeting with alot of young people who are struggling because they don’t know what they want to be an so many companies are requiring them to be an expert before they start!

Most of us who are in our 40’s and older started at companies and were taught the skills we needed to do the jobs.  We didn’t ‘know’ everything when we started, fewer and fewer organizations are allowing people to grow into jobs.  This can be both good and bad as it often means that you are missing out on someone who might be really good at the job if you gave them a few months to learn!

As leaders we often follow this mentality as well with our teams, we expect people to be instantly good leaders and forget that we didn’t start off knowing what we know.  We had to learn and grow into our positions!

What IF (stay with me here), what if we found someone who seemed to have some skills and we invested in them?  Taught them how to be a good leader, how to lead a team, how to handle conflicts?  Taught them the skills they needed to be good leaders and then allowed them to expand their leadership skills in small but impact-full ways? Mentoring another member of the team or leading a small project?  Not only could we guide but they would have the chance to learn!

Today your exercise is to find someone on your team who you think might make a good leader.  Setup a meeting with them and then help them find small ways they can lead within your organization.  Allow them to fail, allow them to succeed and guide them along the way!  I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!

Be Consistent

The 1 main rule in horse training is to be consistent.  Horses are notorious for give an inch take a mile!  If you let them get away with it once they are going to do it again and again until you teach them where the boundaries are!

Leadership is very much the same.  You must provide consistent boundaries for your teams and offer praise for the consistent items.  This doesn’t mean you praise and reward each person on your team equally however it does mean that if you hold someone accountable for being on time but let someone else be late every day your team is going to notice.

For example, if your company does not allow consistent working from home but you allow 1 employee to work from home every week simply because you like them, this is going to cause issues with your team.  If that person is working from home because they have a child who is chronically ill make sure your team knows that this is a special circumstance.

Being consistent with the rules allows everyone to know what the boundaries on and how to live within them.  If your team expresses concern over a rule it’s your job to take that to leadership and fight for your team.

Today, take a look at the rules you have with your team, are they consistent across the team?  Do you favor someone simply because you like them better?  It’s OK to have team members that you relate better with, it’s NOT OK to treat them differently.

Happy Leading!!

What’s it Worth??

I read an article today about the cost of boarding horses.  We pay $625 a month plus the cost of training for Lil Duke (yes that is officially his name – Don’t ask).  The article indicated that just an average barn the cost is about $500 per horse per month!  This doesn’t include things like maintenance, etc.

This article got me thinking about the true cost of leadership and if we are willing to put in the time to make the most of it!  When we decided to buy a horse, we did so without a real understanding of the cost, I think alot of us get into leadership without fulling understanding the cost.

Of course the cost isn’t so much monetary but time and energy.  We think wow, I just promoted I am going to be a great leader without really knowing what that means! We can prepare ourselves by finding mentors, reading books and looking at examples around us!  However, we can’t expect that this is going to come naturally, even for those we are natural leaders.

When we first got Duke, I thought we’ll get on him and ride him and life will be great.  Then we figured out that he is afraid of his own tail and he couldn’t understand why he would need to do simple things like stop.  As leaders we think this is all going to be so easy. We are going to go to work on day 1 and be this amazing leader!  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but probably not going to happen.

You are going to have days where you feel like you are the best there is, and then you will have days where you are sure your mouth and your brain are seriously disconnected!  The way to get better is to seek mentorship – don’t expect it to come to you!  And ask for feedback from your team and those around you!

Think about how you handle situations and see if you could of done it better and or changed it!  Then don’t get frustrated when you do 2 steps forward and 1 back!  There will be days where you get on the horse and the ride is amazing and there will be days where you get on and end up on the ground!

Don’t under estimate what you can do!  However, don’t over estimate it either!  Then start learning and never stop!