Put People in Positions Where They Will Be Successful 2

If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be? If you were a colour, do you think you would be red, blue, yellow, or green? What would you think if your Interviewer asked you to draw a pig? Believe it or not, these are the kinds of questions you might get asked during your job interview. Don’t panic; Interviewers aren’t looking to have you committed. They are, however, looking to gain some valuable insight to your attitude, behaviour, and potential in the workplace. Weird science? Perhaps. But today’s behavioural assessment tools are becoming more and more prevalent as companies look for ways to hedge their bets against the high costs associated with hiring the wrong person.

Worth Remembering …

“Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgements sounder, and your life closer to your hearts desire.” –  Isabel Briggs Myers

Behavioural assessments are not new. Personality research dates back to Hippocrates in 400 BC. Hippocrates believed that we each have our own natural, perfect, unchangeable personality style. He believed that while we each have the same factors comprising our personalities, four distinct styles of behaviour emerge. It’s interesting to note that no matter what assessment tool you use – Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Colours or DISC – they all agree that there are four distinct styles of behaviour and that each style reacts to  the same situation differently. And generally speaking we “Fit” into one of the four styles.

Each of the four styles has their own strenghts and limitations; and there really isn’t one style that’s better than any other. It is clear, however, that some styles are better suited for some roles, tasks, or careers. Yes, it’s true that we all have the ability to modify our behaviour to get a different result, but we all have one style that feels most comfortable to us and we use that one style most of the time, regardless of the circumstance. Keep in mind that a strength overused or used in the wrong situation can be a weakness.

Worth Remembering …

“Effective executives fill positions and promote on the basis of what a person can do. They do not make decisions to minimize weaknesses but to maximize strengths.” – Peter F. Drucker 

I use an assessment tool in all of my coaching engagements and workshops based on the DISC theory first introduced by Dr. William Marston in his epic book, Emotions of Normal People published in 1928. In the mid 1950’s, William Clark further developed the Marston theory. He utilized the simple matrix entitled DISC and identified the factors that comprise each of the four styles. I use the tool to help identify the style of the person I am working with – their strengths and their limitations. And it provides my client with a universal language that is easy for them to understand. (They already know what they do well and what they don’t do well – but now at least they have a name for it and a reason behind why they do what they do)

We are who we are – but it doesn’t have to dictate where we end up. We are adults and we can learn new habits. Just stop doing one thing and start doing another. And the more that we do it – the more it becomes us. I believe the key to performance improvement is by understanding ourselves well – and by studying the behaviours of others. Managers spend way too much time trying to change people. What they should be doing is spending the time to find out what their people do well – and then put them in positions where they will be able to play to their strengths.

These are the four  distinct styles of behaviour associated with DISC Theory. Recognize anyone you know? Which one sounds most like you?

D – Dominant Style, Direct and Decisive: These types of people make quick decisions when others cannot; they will confront tough issues or situations, accept change as a personal challenge, and will keep the team focused on task. (In the olden days we called this style the typical “A” Type personality. (I’ll let you figure out what the “A” meant.) Others may see limitations because they may come across as unapproachable. They can be insensitive to others needs. Patience is not your strong suit. D Style persons naturally want to take control. They have a lot of qualities that we like to see in our managers.

I – Interactive/Interpersonal Style, Optimistic and Outgoing: These people like to make themselves available to others; they spread their enthusiasm and positive attitude to others and will give positive feedback to their colleagues and teammates. They are great communicators and have an innate ability to build collaborative teams. Others may see limitations because they can appear to be disorganized. They love being around people so they find it difficult to work alone. They’d rather be liked then to be respected. I Style persons make great sales people – social convenours or teachers.

S – Steadiness Style, Sympathetic and  Cooperative: These types are team players; they are sensitive to other’s needs, approach meeting agendas methodically, and are great listeners. They are very loyal, show up to work on time, and maintain the status quo. They prefer to be non-confrontational. Others may see limitations because they can be indecisive – they find it difficult to make quick decissions for fear of making waves. They have a tendancy to resist change for fear of failing. S Style persons work best in a structured environment where processes have been defined and people are expected to follow procedure.

C – Conscientious Style, Concerned and Correct: These types of people like things done the right way as they see it. They are very thorough and will maintain standards; (as long as they where the ones who developed the standard). They emphasize accuracy and will try to use some diplomacy to get their way. C’s are our very best planners. Others may see limitations because they can be overly concerned with perfection. They prefer to work alone. C Style persons make great accountants, lawyers or project managers.

Worth Remembering …

“Everyone has peak performance potential. You just need to know where they are coming from and meet them there.” – Ken Blanchard. 

Active Listening – It’s Harder Than You Think 3

Active listening; when you read those words out loud what kinds of images conjure up in your mind? Active Listening – What does it suggest to you?  A study conducted by Dr. Ralph Nichols – a communication expert – suggests that individuals listen about 25% of the time; most people recall only 50% of what they hear; and 70% of all misunderstandings happen because people do not listen to each other. It’s been reported that grade school aged children listen to their teacher just 25% if the time? By the time young people graduate from high school they are listening to the teacher just 17% if the time. That number drops to 12% by the time they earn their college diploma. How much do you think they are listening by the time they join the workforce?  How much do you think they are listening by the time they come to work for you?

Worth Remembering …

“There is no such thing as a bad listener. There is only a person with inflexible listening habits” – Doug Larson

Have you ever observed a conversation going on between two people and know that neither one of them was listening just by watching their body language and listening to what was or wasn’t being said? (They where just waiting for the other person to take a breath so they could jump in and take over the discussion) Two monologues don’t make a dialogue.

Worth Remembering …

“We have two ears but only one mouth. Some people suggest that’s because we should spend twice as much time listening as opposed to talking. Others suggest it’s because listening is twice as hard” – Author Unknown

We all suffer from natural tune-out. We listen and speak at two different rates of speed which makes listening difficult at the best of times. According to Dr. Nichols the average person has the ability to speak at a rate of 125 to 150 words per minute. Yet, your mind can comprehend and process information at an average rate of 500 words per minute. If you do the math that adds up to a time-lapse of some 350 words.  What can you do to stay in the moment and avoid tuning out? What can you do to stay focused on the sender and not let your mind start to wander? What new habits will you need to learn to become a more “Active” listener?

Receivers Need to Develop Good Listening Habits

We are adults and we can learn new habits. Just stop doing one thing and start doing another. And the more that you do it – the more it becomes you. And if you do it often enough you’ll have developed a new habit. Habits are great because you end up doing it without even thinking about it.

Patience: Be patient with yourself and the speaker. Do not interrupt. Concentrate on what the speaker is saying. When they have finished ask open and closed ended questions for clarity. (Being patient was a hard one for me. I have a tendency to jump in and finish your sentence for you)

Focus: Send verbal and non-verbal cues to the sender that you are giving them your undivided attention. (I call that the Dr. Fraser Crane – Hello – I’m listening) Be sure to smile – face the speaker – turn off the cell phone – put down your papers, and give the speaker your undivided attention. (I find myself slipping back now and again and positioning my arms across my chest. People may interpret that as being closed and that you are no longer listening)

Open Mindedness: Try not to become emotional. React and respond to what is being said, not to the speaker. As Dale Carnegie said – “I listen to understand … not necessarily to agree”. Respect the fact that people have a right to their opinions and they have a right to express their opinions. As long as they do it respectfully and play nice.

Worth Remembering …

“In the Industrial Age, the CEO sat on the top of the hierarchy and didn’t have to listen to anybody. In the Information Age; you have to listen to the ideas of people regardless of where they are in the organization.” – John Sculley 

Active listening (Receiving) is as important to communication as effective speaking (Sending). I think the receiver is the most important person in the conversation. If they don’t receive the message the way the sender intended – then what ever the sender said means absolutely nothing. Good communication takes two. Be “Actively” involved. What new habits will you need to learn to become a more active listener?

If You Can’t Communicate Effectively – You Can’t Manage

How would you define communication? What are you trying to accomplish when communicating with someone else? I define communication as an exchange of thoughts and ideas amongst one or more persons. (Of course I’ve been known to talk to myself on more than one occasion) The key word here is “Exchange”. An exchange suggests to me that effective communication takes two. (The sender and the receiver) Talking and communicating are two different things. Managers often fall into the trap of talking too much and not communicating enough. If you can’t communicate effectively – then you can’t manage – period!

Worth Remembering … “Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much” – Robert Greenleaf

Tips for Communicating and Interacting More Effectively

  • When giving instructions use direct, to-the-point communication without a lot of social chatter. Too much information muddies the water and tends to confuse the brain. (Less is more).
  • Check at the end of the discussion to make sure everything was heard and the receiver received the message the way it was intended. Ask open-ended questions to promote dialogue. (The Five W’s – What, Where, When, Why and How)
  • Don’t use a closed question if you want to promote dialogue. Closed will only get you a one word response. (Yes, No, Maybe, So)
  • Use informal, open-ended discussions in a social environment. It encourages small talk and small talk is important for building rapport and developing relationships.
  • Provide an opportunity to share stories and ideas in an enthusiastic exchange. (It lets the other person know that you like them. People won’t be interested in you unless you are interested in them.)
  • Use two-way dialogue. Responding to a person’s feelings is just as important as to what is being said. (Empathy is an important 21st Century skill to have)
  • Provide regular opportunities for informal, casual discussions. (This is a great exercise for building collaborative teams)
  • Listen more than you talk. (Don’t take over the conversation)
  • Initiate conversations in a friendly, low-key manner
  • Use formal communication in new situations, avoiding personal questions until you have established a relationship.
  • Use logical, matter-of-fact statements rather than emotional expressions when you are upset about a particular situation. (Deal with the facts only – keep your emotions in check – take a deep breath or a long walk)
  • Smile and keep your arms down at your sides.
  • Check for points of disagreement or misunderstanding by being more intuitive to the non-verbal signals being sent. Make sure your actions and words are as one. (The other person will believe the non-verbal to be more accurate.) We communicate 55% of the time by body language alone.
Worth Remembering … “We have needed to define ourselves by reclaiming the words that define us. We have used language as weapons. When we open ourselves to what they say and how they say it, our narrow prejudices evaporate and we are nourished and armed” – Selma James

Is Your Cup Half-Full or Half-Empty 1

Sir Winston Churchill once said “For myself – I am an optimist. It does not seem to be much use being anything else.” Do you walk around thinking that your cup is half-full or half-empty? I choose to see my cup as half-full. I choose to see the positives in everything that happens to me and around me – because I believe that everything in life is a learning opportunity. Even the negative things that happen to you, and trust me there will be plenty of them, are really positives if you choose to look at them from a different point of view. (It also helps if you believe in fate) I believe everything that happens to you in life – happens for a reason.  Whatever happens today is preparing you for what is going to happen tomorrow.

Worth Remembering … “The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn” – Amanda Curtis Kane

I believe I am without a doubt the most optimistic person you will ever meet. But besides being an eternal optimist I’m also a realist. (I do have my Dr. Phil moments of clarity) I know that I can’t control everything that goes on around me. I know most outcomes are out of my hands. But I do know that I can control how I choose to react in any given situation. I know that in that space between stimulus and response that Dr. Covey talks about – and what Dr. Viktor Frankl knows to be true from his own experiences – that I must react in a way that is going to get me what I want.

Worth Remembering … “Everything can be taken away from man but one thing – to choose – ones attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” – Frankl

Viktor Frankl was born into a Jewish Family and ended up being shipped to a German Nazi Concentration Camp along with his wife, mother and father during the Second World War. He lost his wife to the camp at Bergen-Belsen, his father to the camp at Theresienstadt  and his mother to Auschwitz. Viktor considered himself one of the lucky ones who managed to survive the camps. Viktor understood the power to choose. Viktor understood that no one else but he could decide how he wanted to react to any given situation.

Viktor believed that the most powerful motivating and driving force in one’s life is the quest to find meaning in one’s life. He believed that it is that search for meaning which motivates us to carry on. And in some cases to endure tremendous hardships with the thought that there must be a better future waiting for us. Viktor believed that although the Nazi’s had taken away all that was dear to him – his prized manuscripts, his wife, his loving parents and friends – they could not take away his ability to choose.

Worth Remembering … “When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound; rebuild those plans and set sail once more toward your goal” – Hill

Everything you do – is a matter of choice. You may not like the choices that you have to pick from – but it is a choice. You can choose to do nothing – and see what happens – or you can choose to do something and hopefully end up with what you want. Like Viktor – we all have choices. If you change the way you look at things – the things you look at will change. It’s a matter of choice.