,

It’s Not Always About You

I received a very snarky comment on a team building evaluation recently and it really upset me. This was a particularly challenging group and I worked hard to give them what they needed to learn about themselves and each other and to practice communicating and collaborating while having fun.

Because the comment was harsh and not at all constructive, it threw me right into my stress behavior. I couldn’t focus on all the positive comments because all I could see was the negative one. It took me several days and multiple conversations with trusted advisors before I realized, “Maybe it wasn’t about me.” As I always tell my team building participants, “I teach this stuff and I still forget it sometimes.”

The person who made the comment obviously didn’t get what he needed in the session. If the evaluations hadn’t been anonymous, I would have asked him what was missing. Asking others what they need is a foundational practice I teach in team building. What I forgot is that focusing on the other person’s needs can be really difficult when I am not getting what I need.

The ideal scenario is to meet the other person halfway, but that requires two willing parties. Sometimes you have to go all the way to the other side to find out what they need. That might be easier if you remember that their behavior may not be about you.

Whom do you need to meet halfway?

,

The Power of Storytelling

“This work changed my life.” When a client tells me that, I am grateful, humbled and energized to continue finding opportunities to help people fulfill their potential. This particular client was very good at telling people what he thought they wanted to hear, but I knew he meant what he said because he had worked hard on being authentic. He had learned how to let people know that he cared about them personally.

Sharing stories about his struggles as the new kid in school and his challenges in meeting his parents’ extraordinarily high expectations helped my client connect with his colleagues at a deeper level. As a result, they trusted him to tell them the truth and lead them through a very challenging time in their business.

Our storytelling tradition has been around since humans started talking around a campfire. Technology allows us to share our stories in different ways now, but we are still moved by someone who stimulates our imagination and our emotions. Your stories hold the power to persuade, teach and inspire – how will you use them?

For ideas and examples of great storytelling, check out

https://www.ted.com/talks, http://themoth.org/radio and www.storytellingsuccess.com

,

Could You Translate That?

“I’ll get it to you by EOB tomorrow.” Does this statement save time because everyone understands what it means? If I assume that EOB means end of business is 5:00 PM CST and you mean 5:00 PM EST, could that lead to frustration or worse?

Every team and organization has its own language. Take a minute and write down the acronyms or phrases that you use frequently and then rate them – a plus for those that contribute to positive outcomes like inclusion and collaboration and a minus for those that can lead to negative consequences like exclusion or confusion.

Now for the challenge – what needs to change so that your language is an asset? How will you and your teammates make that happen?

, , ,

“No Thanks”

Are you tired of people telling you to be thankful this month? You already know that is important. What about saying, “no thanks?” This isn’t about the second piece of pie at Thanksgiving dinner although it is about resisting temptation – to saying “yes.”

Do you keep saying “yes” to everything you are asked to do until you are so overwhelmed that you can’t do any of it well? I’m not discouraging going above and beyond to exceed performance expectations. I am encouraging strategically prioritizing the things to which you say “yes.”

How do you say “no thanks?” In this month’s issue of Fortune the CEO of Priceline Group shares this advice: “It is far more important (and difficult) to decide what you are not going to do than what you are going to do. Try to replay every direction in the negative: We won’t do X, Y, and Z. Focus and simplicity are a workforce multiplier.”

Try (politely) saying “no thanks” to one thing to which you usually say “yes” and see what happens. Enjoy the holiday and the pie!

, ,

Virtual Team Building

Two clients contacted me recently to explore options for virtual team building because travel bans and budget constraints are making a difficult situation even more challenging. They want to go beyond standard conference calls to bridge the distance between people in multiple locations.

Video calls are another option that can create a more personal connection. In the same way that we set ground rules for an in-person team building session, the team needs to decide how they will interact on calls. Here are some things to consider in making this an effective tool:

Include an icebreaker activity to help people get to know each other. Check out 50 Digital Team Building Games

  • Determine how to ensure everyone’s participation
  • Constructively voice differences of opinion during the call rather than afterward
  • Define the boundaries for confidentiality
  • Establish accountability and timelines for action items

In between calls, pairing team members on special projects or initiatives can create camaraderie. Rotating the responsibility for leading the call is a great way to develop new skills and generate different ideas and approaches. Find more ideas at HBR Making Virtual Teams Work.

, ,

Building Trust

What makes you trust someone? Transparency, maintaining confidentiality, delivering on commitments, telling the truth even when it’s difficult – these are some of the qualities of a trustworthy person. With the continual news about public figures abusing the trust of their constituents, fans and families, building an environment of trust is a timely topic for all leaders.

Here are a few fundamentals:

  • Let go – delegate authority and trust your team to handle it responsibly
  • Be honest – give constructive feedback
  • Admit your mistakes – set the example for humility and learning
  • Show that you care – about them as a person, not just an employee
  • Be consistent – so people will know what to expect

Building trust takes time but it is an investment with a significant return. I invite you to consider one thing you might do this month to build trust with a colleague and how that might pay dividends to both of you.