Category Archives: Rapport
This blogpost might be challenging for some. It was for me. I like to think of myself as open-minded. (Actually, I just like to think of myself generally. But that’s something else I need to work on). But am I really that open-minded? How would I know? Is there a scale of 1 to 10 upon which I’m a 7?
Psychologist Carol Dweck led the way with research on fixed versus growth mindsets. Crudely and sweepingly summarised, there are two types of default thinking positions and if you don’t effortfully choose one, you likely have a default. The post explains more. I especially like point 2 – when you meet an idea, do you start in response with statements or questions? That was something of a relief to me as three of my five sentences in paragraph one were questions.
There’s a quote that the ability to change your mind is a superpower and another that the true test of intelligence is the ability to have two opposed ideas in your mind and retain the ability to function. If I’m having a good day after a good sleep and have eaten wisely without deadlines yelling at me, then I’m in a resourceful state and I’m certain I could manage that. Other days not so much. It’s the other days that can cause us and our people some problems. It’s for those other days that wee need to prep and practice so when it gets tough, our open-mindedness keeps goings.
Do read the article but if you’re having a low resourcefulness day, here’s 7 quick questions to assess yourself against:
- How do you respond when your ideas are challenged? (My new thing is ABC – always be curious – WHY are they challenging them?)
- Are your first responses statements or questions?
- Do you seek first to be understood or to understand?
- Do you use the phrase, “I might be wrong but…”
- How often do you interrupt?
- Can you simultaneously hold opposed ideas?
- How much effort do you put into testing your own views? Do you deliberately seek evidence to the contrary?
More ideas at http://gettingbetterbuyin.com/
I found a short and snappy graph today about where workplace leaders are supposedly falling short. This is from the US, is a survey of a thousand workers and I haven’t delved into its methodology at all but it might be a conversation starter. It asked employees but it was clearly offering a pre determined list of options – I’m pretty sure someone isn’t going to refer to themselves as a “subordinate.” Myself, most days, I feel at least ordinate.
I’ll probably trial this in the communication workshops I run. I might give my participants that list (without the results) and ask them where they think most managers fall short, or where their own manager falls short, or where they feel they themselves fall short, or all those things. Then reveal the results. To start a conversation.
Pretty shocking that 36% result for bosses not knowing their own employees’ names! (Employees now, not subordinates. Consistency please.) I’m self-employed and I manage to remember my employee’s name.
The colleagues a person spends each day with are more important than their managers, according to this recent research. Whenever I show people the standard Gallup-type surveys that measure employee engagement, many often chuckle at the question asking if they have a best friend at work. I did too but they ask because there is a causative connection to getting engaged with your work, and certainly the lack thereof, or the opposite thereof, drives disengagement. If you think your day at work sucks and drags because you’re lonely, wait until you’re surrounded by jerks.
“This puts a premium on stronger employee-to-employee relationships. HR and team leaders must prioritise the recruiting of talent that is collaborative and team-oriented.”
In New Zealand, Fonterra’s internal research found that the number one driver of their employee engagement was the behaviour of colleagues – what everyone else is doing around here…
I’m tantalisingly close to getting a deal done for the publishing of my 3rd book about adding 10 quality years to your life. Along with the usual advice on quitting smoking, eating better, exercise and so forth, it seems that one of the most powerful tools for living longer and better is not being a jerk. Strong social connectivity promotes all sorts of things that makes us healthier and happier. Part of that is success at whatever we do for a living. And social skills help that immensely.
I’m sure you can think of a millionaire jerk or a jerk who lived to 100 but they’re exceptions and who knows how much better they may have done with less jerkishness? One frosty morning does not negate the evidence of overall global warming. To believe so would make you, well, a jerk.
Successful organisms and groups in nature rely on diversity as a defence mechanism and to provide tools to deal with a wide range of situations – business is no different. Here’s the rest of that thought, expressed in my lead article from the Careers section of The NZ Herald on 20th July 2013. To save me re-typing it, here it is in image form with a link back to the Herald’s original online article.
I read this New York Times’ article about how it is supposed to be harder to make friends once you pass the age of 30 and it reminded me of some old Gallup surveys I saw on employee engagement citing “having a best friend at work” as an indicator of employee engagement.
The article itself is quite interesting as someone myself who recently nudged over the line of [SPOILER ALERT] being closer to 60 than 30. Just. Recently.
“Gallup also observed that employees who report having a best friend at work were:
- 43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days.
- 37% more likely to report that someone at work encourages their development.
- 35% more likely to report coworker commitment to quality.
- 28% more likely to report that in the last six months, someone at work has talked to them about their progress.
- 27% more likely to report that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important.
- 27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work.
- 21% more likely to report that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.”
I don’t know if ‘having a best friend at work’ really is a major driver of employee engagement. It stirs up conversations for sure whenever I bring it up in workshops. Even Gallup referred to it as “controversial” but they stuck by it. I guess I can see it as symptomatic of a workplace culture that allows trust, belonging, contribution, support and all those good things that do definitely drive engagement. Certainly, on the flipside, those without employment at any time also lose a massive chunk of chance to interact socially which us humans definitely need. Losing a job isn’t just losing a pay-cheque.
So, what does work provide that potentially generates and builds friendships?
“As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other…”
Where these days (or ever) do those conditions occur? Schools and workplaces. And if you’re over 30, you’re probably not at school anymore. (Maybe we all should be?) Unless you’re a teacher. But then, that also counts a workplace. Teachers must have lots of friends.
Here’s a Freakonomics blog post about the advantages of looking trustworthy. They reference a, perhaps not unsurprising, piece of research which found that, “… people are more likely to invest money in someone whose face is generally perceived as trustworthy, even when they are given negative information about this person’s reputation.”
In researching my current book, I came across one so-called research finding that concluded that people with assymetrical faces made better leaders. The reasoning behind this was that beautiful people have it easy their whole lives so they don’t have to put in the effort with people to influence them, whereas not-so-beautiful people had to develop influencing skills their whole life because nature didn’t give them any natural advantages. This does seem to contradict books like ‘Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful.’
Both are interesting possibly but is either of any use to a leader in the workplace trying to be a Brain-Based Boss and get better results by applying this thinking in the real world of work?
I suggest that while it may be possible to change how symmetrical your face is in order to enjoy any supposed benefits, that’s a tad crazy. (Crazy isn’t like pregnant. No one’s ever a “tad pregnant.” You either are or you aren’t. With crazy however, there is an abundance of shades.)
My point, surreal as it was getting, is that the face-shape research might be amusing but it isn’t usefully applicable in the real world of work.
Looking trustworthy has more potential usefulness. I couldn’t tell with just a skim read of the article but I hope that whatever trustworthy looks like isn’t something you’re born with but is a set of behaviours you can learn and use. And by “use”, I don’t mean “fake and manipulate.” And I don’t just mean raised eyebrows and a smile. There must be a combination of micro body language movements that reflect a genuine trustworthiness.Straight posture, open gestures, eye contact and many more that a mere still image in a lab test cannot hope to portray.
If you are trustworthy, it’ll enhance your professional communication and leadership effectiveness if you can also look trustworthy. Here are some clues:
No disrespect to the follically challenged, and I get that these are simple computer generated images, but I think the +3SD guy would look even more trustworthy if he added some hair (though not not in beard or mustache form) and lost the black t-shirt…
My most popular post to date has been on what factors drive success in people. If you found that interesting, you’ll probably also get a lot from Angela Lee Duckworth’s work on grit and perseverance.
This longitudinal study has been tracking the progress of hundreds of children through the New Zealand educational system. Its latest findings (summarised nicely in this Radio NZ news item only this morning) reveal how the kids have achieved (or not) at NCEA – New Zealand’s high school qualifications. Broadly speaking, they break down the participants into their strata of success and look at the associated characteristics within each band. What are the common traits of those who succeed versus those who do not succeed (or, at least, haven’t succeeded yet)?
The answer is hard work! Don’t you hate it when your parents are right? I paraphrase but the soft / people skills are more correlated to success than inherent braininess: Perseverance, curiousity, resilience. That’s good news, as those are behaviourial choices we can make and encourage our kids to make. It’s not like “tall.” That’d be a tough one. Though, if you manage to convert your short kid to tall, it may well prove their resilience!
I don’t write about education. I write about improving results through engaging your people – employees, customers, whoever your people are. What do educational success factors have to do with that? If they ever even existed, long gone now are the days when we went to school & learnt then left to work and stopped learning. That kind of industrial revolution, people-as-cogs-in-the-machine thinking is archaic. Lifelong learning is the way of the future, it is the way of the now. Whatever machine you’re operating today, whatever software you’re an expert in today will be obsolete soon enough. Obsolescence is accelerating. The last company in the world (in India) that manufactured manual typewriters just got out of the typewriter manufacturing business. Whatever abilities you have today, the number one ability needed in future is the ability to learn.
So, the success factors driving success at high school academically are going to be needed after high school – in the workplace and in everyone’s life outside work. Perseverance, curiousity, resilience can be taught and learnt and they can be recruited and supported in the workplace. I’ve heard for years the mantra from HR folk and managers in the hiring frame of mind, “Hire attitude, train skill.” I mostly agree. This latest research certainly reinforces that philosophy. I bet it becomes even more important outside of school. Schools provide a lot of support and structure. The big bad world does not. People with perseverance, curiousity, resilience that they either naturally possess or have chosen to develop are far more likely to be these ‘motivated, self starters’ all these employees are always looking to hire. They’re more likely to be the innovative entrepreneurs that our economies actually desperately need.
So, the next time you’re hiring or looking to spend some training budget, give some researched-backed thought on the best way to invest that time, energy and money. Improved results and success are built with the building blocks of perseverance, curiousity, resilience. And maybe email the link to that news item about high school success to your kids. Or tweet it. Or send it by whatever means they’re using today because they stopped using the previous latest best app because you started using it…
This article by Jonah Lehrer asks the question, “Are your co-workers killing you?” He goes on to cite a 20-year study into the effects of the workplace on longevity. There’s another longitudinal study that draws similar conclusions but goes on to the more important ‘why’. As I recently blogged with Langer and Rubin’s potplant experiment with old folks, the issue affecting health etc was one of perceived control.
You may or may not have ****heads as colleagues in your team but if they start affecting the degree to which you think you have influence over your work and your results, that’s when it starts getting unhealthy, nevermind less productive. (Bear in mind the old joke: Think of your four closest friends. Research shows that one in five people are a ****head. If you disagree… it’s you…)