The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century 3

images (1)It doesn’t matter what environment you work in – retail, manufacturing, construction or the corporate world, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and the next decade. Your success as a manager or business leader is no longer dependent on your technical ability alone. Soft-skills – your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization. It doesn’t matter what book you read, the workshops you participate in, or the seminars you attend, know for certain that there are no silver bullets here. Unless you are committed to a new way of managing and leading others you will get left behind. The workplace is changing and if you don’t adapt to keep pace with those changes you stand the risk of falling by the wayside.

Do you feel at times that your staff are turned off or have tuned out? Is it getting more challenging to motivate others? Are you finding it difficult to attract or retain talent? You are not alone. Gallup’s ongoing survey findings indicate that 70 % of workers are not engaged. According to Gallup   “Millennials are most likely of all the generations to say that they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months if the job market improves”. If you want to re-engage the disengaged and attract new talent then you need to master the art of managing and leading in the 21st Century.

The Four Step Leadership Development Model (C)

I believe the key to retaining and attracting new talent is to develop and fashion your leadership style around these four easier said then done disciplines:

Congregate: People work for people they like. Learn how to build collaborative teams and develop those all important relationships.  No one is successful by themselves. Together everyone achieves more. Always keep in mind that you need your people a great deal more than they need you.

Communicate: If you can’t communicate, then you can’t manage or lead others. If you can’t communicate in a language that others will understand – then whatever you say will mean absolutely nothing. You can never communicate too much. Be open and receptive to what others have to say. Give your people a voice.

Educate: People aren’t born knowing what they need to know – it’s a learned behavior. It’s your responsibility as a manager or leader to teach them the skills needed to take the organization to where it needs to go. Take the time to discover what your people do well and then put them in positions where they can play to their strengths.

Delegate: Surround yourself with people who do some things better than you do. You’ve got to give up control to get control. If you aren’t sharing some of your responsibilities with the people around you  – you are robbing them of their opportunity to grow. Resist the urge to micro-manage.

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith. Excerpts taken from Brian’s soon to be published second book – “Leadership Lessons from a Reformed Control Freak – The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century” (C) To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

If You Think They’re Listening – Think Again

How often have you been in a conversation with someone and their body language is telling you that they aren’t interested in you – or what you have to say – simply by the non-verbal messages they are sending you? (Scooping the room to see if there is someone more interesting to talk too, looking down at their watch, retrieving messages on their smart phone or being easily distracted by people walking by) If it looks like they aren’t interested – trust me – they aren’t interested.  Think about that the next time you are having an important conversation with someone. If you want others to be interested in you – you must demonstrate that you are interested in them. And to do that you have to learn how to “Actively” listen.

Dr. Ralph Nichols – a communication’s expert – suggests that we communicate 40% of the time by listening.  A recent survey revealed 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. (Two monologues do not make a dialogue) According to Dr. Nichols grade school aged children listen to their teacher just 25% of the time. By the time young people graduate from high school they are listening to the teacher just 17% of the time. And by the time they graduate college they are listening to the professor just 12% of the time. How much do you think they are listening by the time they go out into the workforce or meet up with you at a networking event?

We are not born good listeners – but we can learn how. The next time you have an opportunity to listen to someone try to be actively involved in the conversation by developing/demonstrating these five active listening skills:

1. – Try restating and summarizing what the speaker said by saying it back to them. (So what you are saying is …..)

2. – Paraphrase what the speaker said by repeating it as accurately as you can using your own words. It goes beyond restating and summarizing because you are giving the speaker your interpretation of what you heard them say.

3. – Use non-words and simple gestures to show the speaker that you are listening.  Nod your head, smile and use non-words like ah …, yeah, hmmmm, oh …. work great.

4 – Supporting statements like – “Go on, tell me more” or “then what happened? and “I see what you mean” are another way to verbally acknowledge the other person.

5 – Always keep in mind that non-verbal messages must be congruent with your verbal messages. Most adults believe the non-verbal as being more accurate. You communicate 38% of the time by the tone of your voice and an astounding 55% of the time by body language alone.  (Rolling your eyes, looking down at your watch, yawning or tapping the floor with your toe is telling the other person what you really think.

Active listening is as important to communication as effective speaking. To really listen requires mental focus, verbal paraphrasing and attention to non-verbal cues like tones, gestures, and facial expressions. The more that you can dial into the other person’s am radio station – MMFIAM (Make Me Feel Important And More) – the more likely they’ll “tune” into you. – Cheers, 🙂

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?

Leadership Lessons: When Mistakes are Made Create a Teachable Moment 3

Coaching Session - Digi60 - Ottawa Film Festival

One of the best compliments I had ever received as a Manager was from an employee after I had disciplined her. It took her about 15 minutes after the fact before she realized what I had done. I was reminded of that incident the other day when a reader wrote me and asked me how to go about “calling attention to a person’s mistakes indirectly”. In my management training sessions I talk with team leaders, supervisors and managers about how they need to create “Teachable Moments”. Mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes will happen but discipline should always be a positive learning experience.

It’s difficult for anyone to take constructive criticism in a positive way. (As far as I’m  concerned there is no such thing as constructive criticism only positive feedback) People on the receiving end do take it personal. (It’s human nature) I know for the most part you are giving it for the right reasons.

When working with others it’s important to always be positive. You need to look at mistakes in a positive way. (Look at them as learning opportunities) When mistakes happen – and they will happen – you need to create an environment where it’s OK to fail. You need to create a “Teachable Moment”. You need to be able to separate the act (What the person did) from the person they are. (You’re OK; it’s what you did that isn’t. I don’t want to change you I just want to change what you did wrong.) Try using the “Sandwich Technique”. Think of a sandwich that has two slices of bread (whole wheat multi-grain, lightly buttered, hold the mayo) with a slice of lean roast beef, lettuce and a tomatoes. (If you’re going to eat this sandwich it might as well be a healthy one)

Try creating a “Teachable Moment” by following this simple recipe:

  1. The first thing you need to do is design the right environment. Make sure you have your teachable moment in an area that is conducive to learning. A quiet boardroom, office or on the shop floor if you are going to be teaching someone how to operate a piece of equipment, etc.
  2. Start the conversation off by saying something positive about the person. The years of experience they have that is invaluable to the department and organization. How they contribute to the overall success of the department. The first slice of bread will help you take your emotion out of the equation. The first slice of bread will help you separate the act from the person. Remember the person is OK; it’s the act that you want them to change.
  3. The lean roast beef in your sandwich is what you want them to change. It’s important to let the person know that it’s not them that needs to change but what they are doing. Let them know the negative impact the “act” is having on the team, department and organization. Let the person know you are there to help them be successful. Ask them what they think are the reasons mistakes are happening and what they would recommend be done to correct the problem(s). Together, work out a course of corrective action  that you both can agree on. However, it’s important that they own the plan.  If it’s your plan – and it fails – then you’ve given them an excuse why it failed. If it’s their plan they are more likely to “buy-in” to the process and make it happen.
  4. The second slice of bread is used to bring about closure. Let the person know that you are looking forward to working with them. Let them know that you will be following-up with them to ensure that the plan is getting the desired results. (People do what you inspect not what you expect) Always follow-up. Manage by walking around. Discipline should always be a positive learning experience. Be sure to praise performance. Let them know you are pleased with the progress they are making. “Catch people doing something right and give them a one minute praising” – Ken Blanchard – One Minute Manager.