Make my day!!

Having a bit more time on my hands these days I have the pleasure of helping one day a week with my daughter’s school crossing.

This week I asked my youngest daughter Edie and her friend to say good morning to everyone who crossed.

Though both were anxious at first, eventually they got into the swing of it.

Why?

Simply because being outwardly friendly to someone, even those they completely did not know, got an outwardly friendly response and more – smiles, changes in demeanor, changes in body language; ‘the works’ really. No negativity whatsoever.

kia oraReally it’s not hard.

 

Say hello the first time.

Try and get their name in as well the next time.

And then move on up to asking how they are doing or wishing them a pleasant day.

At no cost, you feel better too.

Observe carefully and you’ll notice most awkward moments are created by what we don’t say rather than what we do – it’s just that we take more note of the few awkward moments we create when we say the wrong thing.

Little things that can have a big impact.

What’s your ‘school crossing’?

Who can you share this simple gift with?

If not this, then how will you Make ‘my’ day?

 

 

 

 

It’s Not ‘Not there’

Simply because we can’t see or hear something doesn’t mean it’s not there.

not there

Often, in fact, it’s right in front of us.

More often than we admit we choose not to see or hear things. It starts as a young child and the habit only becomes more subtle and more discreetly executed as we get older.

Statistically speaking 49.999% of us are in the bottom half of our chosen field of expertise, be it sport, academics, leadership or even parenting!

The perception we typically create for ourselves, however, is that we are in the upper quadrant and, in some studies 90% of people believe they’re above average!

Known as Illusory Superiority this bias has some interesting outcomes – and not always as you might expect.[1]

Ola Svenson (1981) surveyed 161 students in Sweden and the United States, asking them to compare their driving skills and safety to other people. For driving skills, 93% of the U.S. sample and 69% of the Swedish sample put themselves in the top 50%.[2]

Interestingly there is also a tendency for people in the face of a challenging task to suffer from the “worse-than-average” effect.

What makes these two tendencies interesting in unison is that it suggests as managers we will often overrate our ability to deliver a message and underestimate the threat our staff experience in new and challenging tasks.

Rather than pat ourselves on the back for delivering a great message and then expressing great disappointment when our staff don’t execute as expected, we should ensure that we examine deeply where such ‘missions’ fail.

Is an irate manager the result of our own unreality (about their ability) rather than an intrinsic failing in those we manage?

How often as managers do we check in with staff on their comfort with what is being asked of them?

How often as managers do we reassure our staff of our belief in their capability to do challenging tasks?

Simply because there is no noise, no feedback, no protest, doesn’t mean it is not there.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority has a great run down on it.

[2] Svenson, Ola (February 1981). “Are We All Less Risky and More Skillful Than Our Fellow Drivers?” (PDF). Acta Psychologica. 47 (2): 143–148. doi:10.1016/0001-6918(81)90005-6.

 

 

Corporate Culture and Personal Identity

I’m not sure when Corporate culture became a thing – it certainly goes back to the eighties; you could spot IBM employees from 100 metres away, the confident swagger, fresh-pressed clothing and overt conversation.

Somewhere along the line ‘we all fall into line’, well, actually, no.

If our corporate culture and management style doesn’t recognize the individual we have neither an enviable culture nor a valid management style. Just because you have a great corporate culture doesn’t mean it’s a place all the people you ‘need’ are going to love it.

I'm still not sure if this was serious?
I’m still unsure if this sign was serious!

I predict the next big movement will be ensuring personal identity is built into and supported by corporate culture.

This will be a ‘thing’ because increasingly companies are realizing they need all manner of personalities and styles to make their company hum and high turnover of staff in any single area is a significant problem. If, however, they can embrace differences in individuals while integrating the corporate culture and company objectives then rewards will follow for everyone.

In the early stages of my own career, I was wooed by employers who thought the best way to retain my services was simply to pay more. The answer to keeping me happy was much more complicated – the mentoring I craved and the engagement I sought with senior management was most of what was required.

I stayed with and worked hardest for those where my identity was strongest – provided the basic culture was aligned with my values in the first place – though mostly I expect those things to go hand in hand (if the ‘outside appearance of the culture of a company doesn’t align with your values, don’t go there).

If you believe in your staff you need to feed them, and when you do, be aware that while some want steak and chips others want flowers or simply someone to listen to them. Almost anything can actually be accommodated with all but the very worst of corporate cultures and/or employees if you just take time to lean in and learn.

Collectively the individual identities in your organization will always be bigger, stronger and more enduring than your corporate culture, just imagine the strength of what that would create if they could all fit together in a dynamic ‘living’ organization.

I Am

asphalt-communication-commuter-221310

In current times it’s inevitable that some of my posts will veer into politics.

With the surreal event taking place in Singapore at present I can’t resist passing comment on how our egos interfere with our effectiveness.

Safe to say if you’re reading this blog your ego is nowhere near the issue it is for the two men meeting in Singapore (which will be like Cage Fighting in suits with no physical contact).

However, we all have egos and they both serve and hinder us.

When you see things upside down, the ego can be extraordinarily funny; it’s absurd. But it’s tragic at the same time.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

If we carefully observe ourselves we’ll see our ego interfere with our lives on a constant basis, sometimes for good, but also to the detriment of doing the right or best thing:

  • When we feel embarrassed – resulting in inaction when action is what is required.
  • When we fail to acknowledge somebody –  because we’re either a tiny bit underwhelmed or a whole lot jealous, or mostly because we are too full of our own importance.
  • When we do something we know is ‘not right’ – because it’s what we said we would do and can’t deal with our imagined ignominy in changing our course.
  • When we lose focus on a conversation – because no one is listening to us (possibly because their egos are working overtime too, or, simply we are a bore).
  • When we interject (my own personal Achilles) – because our ego can’t wait to show ours is bigger, brighter, funnier or more important (yeah right).

Though we may sigh in despair about the events unfolding and the painful rhetoric which will follow, we also need to take a moment to listen to and observe our own ego.

Imagine life if we trained our ego to understand what a good time can be – where it considered not just you but for those around you.

We need to both feed and nurture our ego but at all times be aware it’s with us.

Even if it’s not raging like some of the more public ego’s we see today, we need to actively manage our ego’s impact on ourselves and those around us. It’s a constant work in progress.

Where do you see the biggest impact of ego – either personally or from others?

What can we do to turn this ‘force’ to positive use?

 

The Complicator

Complicated

A good friend and colleague of mine introduced a wonderful new term to my vocabulary – The Complicator.

I see them in many many places now, and I wish I had this cue to spot them earlier.

Generally I confused them with Chicken Little – people who always thought the sky was about to fall and couldn’t see the upside of anything.

Complicators however are a little more insidious and beguiling. They constantly complain but at the same time they seem to move things forward. You admire the effort, and say to yourself

“Wow in spite of all those problems they made progress, good on them”.

And that is it, they’ve got you. hook line ( that’s a tangled line, and not as strong as it should be, and by the way the hook is made of the wrong metal, and not really appropriate for catching those kind of fish) and sinker (it should be heavier, but we found a way around it, modified it, talked to the design department, rang the supplier, then the sea was drained of all the water so it didn’t matter anyway).

You get the point.

I like to keep things simple, minimise the drama, focus on the outcome and not embellish the journey. Complicators do just the opposite. If you asked them to go to the corner dairy to get some pens for the office the story would go like this:

“That Dairy is hardly ever open (you know it is right now), the last time I went they were working on the footpath outside (3 months ago), damn what time does my favourite program begin…

They want you to say “Hey look it’s alright I’ll go…” to which they reply

“No, no, its fine, be back shortly”

That’s the game. Eric Berne describes them well in his book Games People Play.

So my question is – what the hell do you do?

My thoughts:

No, can’t print that one. Lets try another…

Give them an out for their plea’s for attention

Say “No I’ve heard that already what has changed?”

Say “Yep you told me that so what do you plan to do about it?

Say “Hey, it’s great you recognise the problems, it’s also great you know how to solve them. What I want to hear are the solutions”

All the other options involve weapons, cars, buses and combustible materials.

Have a great day, I’ll struggle to get through mine because, because, because….