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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Keeping your word with yourself…are you trustworthy?

Eight Flying Doves


As I work with senior executives and business owners, a frequent complaint is “employee lack of follow-through”.

So, ask yourself, what does it take for you to follow-through?

Consider these statistics shared by Association for Talent Development on your chances:

  • 10%       Hearing an idea
  • 25%       Consciously decide to adopt it
  • 40%       Decide when you will do it
  • 50%       Plan how you will do it
  • 65%       Commit to someone else that you will do it
  • 95%       Have a specific accountability appointment with
    person committed to

When was the last time you promised yourself to try something new, only to realize six months later you never started?

Leaders must coach to win!

“We’ve done lots of research over the past three years, and we’ve found that leaders who have the best coaching skills have better business results.”

V.P. of Global Executive & Organizational Development, IBM -The Dallas Morning News

We often hear about setting the example in leadership.  Sometimes it is just taking the “high road” and reacting to a situation with integrity and as much dignity as you can muster.

If you haven’t taken a look at yourself recently, take this simple self-check of 15 coaching behaviors.   Use this scale: 5 = always, 4=usually, 3=sometimes, 2=seldom and 1=never. If you are brave enough, let your trainee rate you.  It may be just the wake-up call you need to regenerate positive momentum in that relationship.

  1. _____Set high expectations
  2. _____Offer challenging ideas
  3. _____Help build self-confidence
  4. _____Encourage professional behavior
  5. _____Offer friendship
  6. _____Confront negative behaviors
  7. _____Confront negative attitudes
  8. _____Listen to what is said
  9. _____Recognize what is not being said
  10. _____Add specific activities that you believe would help
  11. _____Offer wise counsel
  12. _____Provide timely feedback
  13. _____Provide positive recognition
  14. _____Share personal experiences when appropriate
  15. _____Demonstrate care

If you scored 60 – 75, write a book!  You are doing it right and people seek you out for advice and counsel.

If you scored 45-59, share this rating scale with someone you coach and ask where you can improve.  Ask how you can demonstrate the coaching behavior they need from you and what they can do if you forget to do it again.

30-44, get yourself a coach who can help you develop these behaviors.  It will contribute greatly to the success of the group you lead and your own personal contentment.

15-29, what’s your employee turnover rate?  Unless, your employees have enlisted, they are not going to stick around very long!



Managing the Unmanageable

Every workplace has them. They never come to work on time; they invade your personal space; they constantly talk about themselves; they are on their cell phone all day; they complain about having too much work; they make inappropriate jokes…the list goes on! One of the toughest challenges in dealing with difficult employees is remaining professional. It has been estimated that difficult employees make up only 10% of a department or team, but they occupy 90% of a manager’s time.

Here are some common difficult personalities that you might face at work…recognize any?

So how can you handle a difficult employee?

  • Don’t Ignore!

In a presentation at the American Management Association in Crystal City, Va., Stewart Liff, a human resources management expert, cited findings from a survey that polled 14,000 federal employees. One question revealed that 87% of those surveyed felt it was “not likely” that management would deal with a problem employee. What is more shocking is that the responses provided by the supervisors were even worse: 91% replied they were “not likely” to deal with an employee who was performing poorly. Ignoring the issue will not solve the problem and if the problem persists, office morale will start to deteriorate. It is best to handle the issue as soon as it happens.

  • Communicate!

Companies with the most effective employee communication have 48% higher shareholder returns over the last five years (Towers Watson, Communication ROI Study, 2011). If you have a difficult employee in your office, speak up. Talk with your manager or supervisor. Explain to them the situation you are having with the employee. If nothing is being done to stop the issue, speak with HR. Once communication breaks down, employee engagement decreases and production drops, which can reduce your bottom line.

  • Coach!

A study conducted by McGovern, Lindemann, Vergara, Murphy, Barker and Warrenfeltz with Manchester, Inc., showed that coaching had the following benefits: 67% increase in teamwork, 63% increase in relationships with peers, and 61% increase in job satisfaction. Coaching employees can drastically reduce difficult behavior. As a manager, being able to recognize individual behaviors and traits of each team member beforehand will help you be better prepared to coach. Part of coaching is to know how each person communicates, learns, solves problems, and works with others. Coaching can help improve these difficult personalities, the office relationships, and employee engagement.

What types of personalities do you have in your workplace? How do you handle difficult employees?

Article contributed by Profiles International, artwork & design by Deann Graham and Jason Ingram of Profiles International.

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Guaranteed ways to get and keep your employees communicating…at work!

Employee communication is critical to getting maximum contribution from your employees. Poor interpersonal and communication skills are consistently ranked in the top five reasons managers fail. Poor communication skills can manifest themselves in many ways, including:

  • Feuds
  • Avoiding communication with co-workers
  • Hostile attitudes

These are all dangerous, but avoiding communication with co-workers has some of the biggest implications. The best way to make sure you do not fall into this black hole is by creating a culture of open dialogue at your workplace. Employee communication automatically improves when employees sense that communicating new ideas is encouraged by management. Here are easy ways to make sure you are creating a culture of open dialogue in your organization:

1) Create ground rules: Before ideas and opinions start flying, create and enforce ground rules to make sure everyone keeps it friendly. This includes rules about curse words and discriminatory comments.  Make sure you emphasize that all comments need to be professional and relevant  to the issue at hand. Guidelines prevent employees from getting off task, when
they are more likely to make inappropriate comments.

Why this matters: Nothing derails employee communication faster than discriminatory and rude remarks. If an employee is on the receiving end of these remarks, he or she may shut down and refuse to provide valuable opinions, insight and direction. The goal is to make sure everyone feels respected and feels like their opinions matter.

2) Don’t just say there is an open-door policy, create it: It is vital that you walk the walk when it comes to promoting employee communication in the workplace.  Begin by setting the example. Make sure you are continually asking for your
employees’ opinions on major decisions. It is also important to leave time to regularly meet with your employees.

Why this matters: You can tell your employees that there is an open-door policy, but unless they see it, they will not feel comfortable speaking up. If employees consistently try to meet with you to no avail, they will eventually assume that employee communication is not important to you and stop trying. But if you lead the way, by creating multiple opportunities for employees to speak up, they will.

3) Regularly update employees: Keep your employees in the loop on upcoming decisions, events, mergers or any other changes you anticipate will be important. If your employees have complete information, they will be able to
make more informed recommendations.

Why this matters: Open dialogue in the workplace will only be helpful in an environment where employees are informed. If they are not, they will fire off suggestions that are not in line with where the organization is headed strategically.

4) Help your employees develop effective presentation skills: There will come a time for most of your employees when they will have to present ideas in formal meetings. Do not let poor presentation skills be the hurdle to having your employee’s idea considered by executives. Utilize training programs if necessary.

Why this matters: Open communication in the workplace is not just about throwing all of your thoughts out there. It is about being able to present your ideas in a way that others will understand. Effective presentation skills will help you do this. People are more likely to respond favorably to an idea communicated in an effective, professional way.

Contributed by Profiles International

The Gift of Gab: 12 Powerful Words That Get Results!

Contributing author: Deiric McCann

I guarantee that this is the most important article you’ll ever read. Here you’ll discover new ideas that have been proven to save
time and energy – oh, and make money. What you’ll love about these proven new ideas is that they are so easy to understand and safe to apply that you’ll get results that will improve the health of your business immediately!


According to the scientists at Yale University I should have had you eating out of the palm of my hand by the end of the introductory paragraph. You see, it contains all twelve of what their research says are the most persuasive words in
the English language. They found that you don’t really need the fabled “gift of gab” if you infuse your pitch with these powerful persuading words.

In order of impact, the twelve great influencing words are:

  1. Discover / Discovery
    Discover(y) is special – Yale’s research showed that it had a universal appeal that outstripped every other
    English word in persuasion power. Discovery implies uncharted territory alive with excitement and adventure. What valuable treasures can your products and services help me to discover?
  2. Easy
    Life is complicated enough – if those providing me with products and services can make it easy then count me in.  Easy is a particularly powerful word when used to describe something that is traditionally considered to be anything but. Remember that we are all basically lazy – we want to get the maximum output for the minimum input. In what ways can what you offer make my life easier?
  3. Guarantee
    We are all, to some extent, averse to risk, and the fear it generates is one of the most substantial obstacles that
    marketers or salespeople have to overcome. The word guarantee jumps off the page because it promises to do just that. An assurance of excellent on-going support or of money back in the event of a failure to meet my requirements makes it much easier for me to take the leap. How can you put my mind at rest?
  4. Health
    We all now know about the many threats to our own longevity and health, to that of our family and loved ones, and to our businesses. Self-preservation moves us all to action. How can you help me, my family, or my business to live longer more healthy lives?
  5. Love
    Your clients and prospects don’t necessarily want to feel loved, but they do all want their suppliers to care about their needs and desires. Tell me, how can you prove to me the importance that you place on my needs?
  6. Money
    Nobody is completely unmoved by opportunities to make or save money. Money attracts, motivates, and persuades. Be sure that your promotions, presentations, and sales presentations take into account the concern we all have for this essential commodity. Can you quantify how much money your service will help me make or save?
  7. New
    Why do many products still use that old “New and Improved” slogan as an integral part of their advertising and promotion? Because it works! Most of us want to feel that we’re working with the most up to date knowledge, equipment, and supplies. What exactly is exciting and new about what you have to offer?
  8. Proven
    Now, while I want the very latest bleeding edge technology; the most up to date of everything, with the best service and
    support, and at the best possible cost, I really only want it if you can show me lots of situations where it is already proven. Contradiction?  Absolutely, but one you have to deal with. Who do you know who’s just like me and received
    all of the benefits you promise from using your products and services in exactly the way I intend to?
  9. Results
    Precisely what tangible and valuable results will I get in return for giving you my money? Tell me all about them in terms
    that will appeal to me, in language I’ll understand, and with whatever backup materials you have to prove what you say – and I’ll seriously consider giving you my money. What’s in it for me?
  10. Safety
    I want it all; action, adventure and excitement – with absolutely no risk to my family, my money, my business, or me. How can you help me feel more secure about doing business with you? Tell me: why should I feel safe with you?
  11. Save
    I don’t have enough time, money, or energy to do everything I want to do.  So, if you can really help me save any of these
    precious commodities then why are you keeping it to yourself?  Tell me what you can save me – detail how, how much, and how much it’ll cost me and you’ll get my attention every time. Just how much will I save by putting your system
  12. You
    There are three topics of conversation which I will never tire – me, myself, and I. You can keep me engaged for hours just by ensuring that every comment you make is directed at me alone. You cannot overuse the word you. The word ‘you’ motivates, persuades, and sells. Don’t you find me fascinating?

Armed with your new knowledge of this proven vocabulary you’ll discover just how easy it is to promote your products in ways that you can safely bet will result in the generation and saving of money that will improve the health of your business – I guarantee you’ll love the results.

Express to De-stress!

Sunset over Iguazu
Find yourself forgetful, confused or making “mountains out of molehills”?  Possibly the enthusiasm you felt earlier this month is dwindling and you might say you are “unenthused” or even depressed.  Be aware!  You may be experiencing signs of emotional distress.

These symptoms can affect us intellectually (hmmm…lack of concentration?), socially (or…withdrawing from people or events?) and even physically (maybe….clumsiness and excessive eating, drinking and smoking?).

Before these behaviors claim a foothold, develop a few strategies for your own “stress shot”.

  1. Talk to a friend or a support person-chances are you are not alone
  2. Take action and say NO to excessive demands
  3. Prioritize and slow down…breathe!
  4. Leave work at a reasonable time, take breaks and exercise!
  5. Listen before jumping to conclusions or taking things personally
  6. Avoid labeling yourself with harsh names you’d never call anybody else
  7. Mentally shout STOP when your focus starts to drift
  8. Remove the word SHOULD from your mental vocabulary
  9. Ask, will it really matter a year from now?

Focusing on what you can do today to make it a productive day, will bring satisfaction, enjoyment and relief of stress.  Take one strategy that appears to be a challenge and practice it for a whole day.  See what it does for you.  Practice it again tomorrow.  In a short period of time, you will be amazed at the results your stress reduction plan will produce!

Source: “The Leader’s Guide to Workplace Stress” by Profiles International Inc. Email for a copy of this white paper.

Take the Leader’s Challenge

4 wings
While celebrating with my CEO coachee her recognition into the 2011 “40 under 40”  class, the keynote speaker introduced some reflective questions and character-building actions for all leaders. Consider these words of wisdom Jeff Sandefer of ACTON School of Business shared with the top young professionals recognized this year by the Houston Business Journal. 
  1) Ask 5 people, ” What do I do best in the whole wide world?”

2) Make a list of  your ” I absolutely will not ___________”.  Store in a desk drawer that is handy to reach, so in times of ethical crossroads you can review your core principles.

3) Who is a someone you have never thanked, that has had a significant impact on your life?  Write a letter to that person.  Then, go to that person and read it to them.  You will be transformed for the several months to come.

These suggestions, if acted upon, (1) will create change, (2) build character and (3) instill gratitude.  Which of these 3 areas in your life are you seeing others lacking?   Now, work the question with the associated number to complete earnestly and sincerely.  Begin to see others changing around you!

Hurricanes, Tornados and Floods, oh my!

Nice New World
Let’s face it, a natural disaster causes retention problems for employers.  Their staff moves and sometimes never returns to their “home”.  After a coastal business had seen their employee count reduced due to a natural disaster and available new employee options thinned out, they were very concerned about keeping the good employees they had! So, we were asked to examine the consistency of their hiring process, profile their top performers for a Talent Audit, and review how effective they were communicating internally.    

How did they review their employees?  “We don’t like our review system at all”, we were told. They had a formalized approach for all of their company employees when assessing their performance.  Their company consisted of executives, management professionals, administrative and production personnel.   Upon closer review, the directors of the company were being assessed as if they were performing the same job as the manufacturing floor personnel…all because someone had provided a template solution.   

It is not uncommon for an appraisal format to be swapped or shared among consultants or companies, with little regard being paid to the impact that it can have on the results the company is achieving.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Many companies I’ve written appraisals for like an interactive conversational style review.  We provide an opportunity for a self-evaluation that the employee completes prior to the appraisal.  There are many advantages to doing so because it:  

  • helps to jog the memory of the employer if he has missed any highlights during the year
  • reveals the mindset of the employee…what is their perception…did they think they had an exceptional year, average or possibly have areas needing significant improvement?
  • reduces the anxiety on both sides of the table, reinforcing the quality of work the employee has accomplished throughout the year

 The Reluctant Reviewer

One employee told me that his supervisor was not a “communicator” and wanted to cover his annual performance appraisal by email…and her office was right next door! 

Not every manager finds that communicating comes naturally.  If an owner finds conversation difficult, I’ll suggest a review where a list of core values, traits or measurable tasks can be reviewed by the employee.  Both the manager and the employee  select from this list ranking each item in order of importance.  This can be a good “icebreaker” to help the manager understand why the employee views his job the way they do.  The manager can then follow up with questions and review the ranking, asking why each was ranked as it was and why they see it that way. 

One manager was considering terminating a long term relationship with an employee he judged as “having an attitude”.  He interpreted certain behaviors as resistant and rebellious.  After utilyzing the alignment system, the employee-employer relationship transitioned to a new level of understanding and cooperation after experiencing years of misunderstanding.  

Employee Retention Downfalls

Every review has an evaluation scale of some kind whether verbal or numerical.  One of the quickest ways to build resentment which usually leads to a retention issue is to inadequately explain the evaluation scale.  Any ambiguity equates to “I fill in my own interpretation.” 

When a manager rates someone as a 5-6 (meeting expectations) and the employee thinks are a 9-10 (exceptional performance), there is room for confusion and hurt feelings. If the employee understands that “exceptional performance” means there is absolutely no room for improvement and one consistently leads the company/department in this area…the evaluation rating takes on a new light. 

The manager can open up communication channels by asking how the employee believes their performance can reach the higher level.  If they do not know, provide examples as to how the next level of performance can be reached and how you can coach or mentor them.

The quickest way to lose an employee is to take out your anger or disappointment in a review based on something recent that has occurred.  One manager fell victim to a misdirected email regarding their personal policy about mandatory overtime and passively lashed out at the employee by rating an employee harshly in their review.  They revealed later that their overreaction and harsh rating drove a wedge in their business relationship that was never repaired.

Penalizing Performers 

Although forced ranking is a popular management philosophy of the day, I suggest we continue to reward performers at all levels. I was asked this question after speaking at a national convention …” should be a set number of “A, B and C performers “in each department”?  If a manager is doing an exceptional job of hiring and developing Top Performers in his department , why should he be penalized by a company formula limiting the number of A performers he has?

Unravelling Performance Appraisals…does one size fit all?

Externsteine - place of power
The subject line of the manager’s email reads: Annual Reviews Due!!  At that moment an audible groan is muffled behind every manager’s computer.  Why?

“Review time! We just finished forecasting and budgets!  Now, I’m going to pull more late nights and Saturdays!  There are just too many *%!@*  things to do around here!”

Reviews, appraisals, salary performance reviews or whatever you call the process…tend to sneak up on a manager’s horizon.  Following employee terminations, it could probably be ranked as a manager’s least favorite activity. Conversely, it is one of the most anticipated events of the year for an employee and can have a strong influence on whether a top performer stays or goes.

Why anticipated?  Well, an employee may receive infrequent feedback and wonder how their performance has been perceived. Or, they work remotely and it’s the time of year set to review how they’ve met their goals and to set goals for the new year.  Maybe, they’re waiting to hear if they get a salary increase or not.  But first, you, as the manager, have to get past the “manager dread”.

Manager Dread

Why do managers dread performance appraisals so much?

  • Not enough time has been set aside during the year to document performance and whether expectations were exceeded or just average
  • There are not regular performance talks (informal or formal) throughout the year, so it feels awkward to address “deep” issues
  • There are areas that need improvement with no clear goals, job descriptions or job duties so it appears that the manager is just  “adding more to their job, as needed”
  • The employee might ask specific questions about goals that are not measurable, and your review seems  contingent on how you feel about someone 

How can we make performance appraisals better experiences?

  • Professionally written job descriptions or guidelines
  • Know the traits that it takes to be successful in the position
  • Frequent informal communcation with the employee, including talks about performance 

Companies often will be able to tell you what it takes to make them successful, such as their core values and mission statement.  Yet, when it comes to breaking down the values, mission statement and strategies into bite-size parts for the employees to handle, it resembles a jigsaw puzzle fresh from the box.  How can that be avoided?

Next time: “One Employee’s Story” and How to Avoid Turnover

"Pat brings her charm, wit and insight into her advisory relationships and shares the same with her audiences. She's got the systems to back up her concepts."

- Frank Maguire FEDEX Senior Founding Executive

John Maxwell


Profiles Int'l