Why should we be happy?

Seeking happiness seems to be the thing to do. These are the messages all around us: Go on this holiday to be happy. Eat this food to be happy. Get this job to be happy. Have the perfect family life to be happy. The research would say we’re wired to go towards pleasure and away from pain and therefore we should seek a life with maximum happiness. But could this be an over-worked concept that isn’t serving us? read more

Humans vs Bots – how a human team can gain competitive edge over the bots

We’ve all seen the headlines.  The bots are coming for our jobs.

In recent research*, the skills managers reported they need in the next 5 years significantly underestimate the importance of people.  But people skills are exactly what we need to differentiate ourselves from AI.  The top 3 skills the managers reported needing were:

1.       Digital and technological expertise (42%)

2.       Creative thinking and experimentation (33%)

3.       Data analysis and interpretation (31%)

…..

And the people skills came in at 6th place.

The thing that sets us apart as humans is that we have vast capacities to be creative and experiment – but this stops when we’re in an environment where we don’t feel safe or valued.

It’s easier to feel safe when we’re surrounded by people like us but this isn’t where the strongest teams operate and it isn’t where the best ideas come from.

So flip that, surround yourself with a diverse team – some reflective people, some who drive the agenda, some who have creative flair, some who pay attention to the practical details.  This is when interpersonal problems arise because opposing styles trigger fear in us.  We don’t understand them.

The paradox is that these differences are exactly what you need for creativity, agility and innovation.

So as a leader, how do you maximise the full potential of your team?  How can you be stronger as a team than you are apart?

Leaders we talk to know that this is what they want to achieve but don’t know how to go about it.  They want the business to grow and evolve but fear losing their original vision and entrepreneurial edge.

A critical way to embrace this paradox and benefit from it is to fully understand each member of your team – what their strengths are, what energises them, what frustrates them – developing their ability to talk about this in an open and conscious way, growing mutual appreciation for what each person brings.

This process enables the team to establish conscious team “norms” – norms are habits or codes of behaviour that become the accepted way to do things.  All teams have norms but they’re usually unconscious and aren’t always helpful for creating the safety for brilliance.

Sometimes an agreed norm can be as simple as allowing everybody the chance at the start of a meeting to say how they’re feeling and what’s going on, or it might be agreeing to co-create agendas in advance.  Whatever your agreed norms, the part which often gets lost is the continued practice of them.  The norms slip from the helpful and conscious back to the unhelpful and nonconscious, especially when the pressure’s on, and the team’s success slips with it.  Regular team reviews are essential.

Our top tips for establishing helpful and conscious team norms:

1.       Everybody inputs into what’s working and what’s not

2.       Agree norms that address what’s not working

3.       Each member takes responsibility for maintaining them

4.       Regularly check how they’re working

5.       Celebrate the successes that come from them

6.       Adjust them if you’ve experimented and they’re not working

Do this in your team and you’ll maintain your competitive edge over the best bots in town!

 

————————————————

Zoe and Helen work with top teams enabling them to harness their collective power. Get in touch to find out how we can help you maximise the differences in your team.

@aligningteams

helen@aligningteams.co.uk

Read more about what we do here.

 

*(Accenture Survey reported in HBR Mar/Apr 17)

Some Guest Bloggage – including that mis-posted one!

I’ve been really enjoying having some space to blog recently and I’ve written for a couple of people I guest blog for.

This one for The HR Director magazine which is about how we can get stuck in our emotions and thoughts, and how we can move out of that place.

And this one (the one I mis-posted a draft of the other week!) for Bray and Bray Solicitors about the challenging world of workplace relationships, and shifting those from the playground to an adult world.

I hope you or someone you know finds them useful.

This is me……….www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk

WFS Tree

#FeedbackCarnival – The Curation!

Wow! What an amazing month April’s been for fabulous feelings and philosophies on feedback! 33 posts all together! Impressive stuff and a great wealth of insight has been created on a topic which is clearly an area of work that continues to need some attention so that we can improve.

Thank you to everyone who’s contributed. It’s only because of you that this curation is possible and able to benefit others with this same challenge.

It all started with a post I began to write  after a Pilates class…..

“Every week in my Pilates class there’s at least one of us that needs help to perfect a move.

> Sit right back, put all the weight into your heels so you can lift your toes. > Keep your hips facing forward and twist at the waist. > Lift your chest keeping your back in neutral.

And we adjust what we’re doing and then go “Oh! That’s how it’s meant to feel”.

And sometimes words aren’t enough and our instructor needs to come and show us one-to-one. Perhaps just visibly. Perhaps physically adjusting our bodies for us so we can really feel the difference.

We think we’re copying her when she stands at the front of the class. And yet sometimes we’re just not. Sometimes we’re really completely oblivious to how our own bodies are actually moving.

Timothy Gallwey talks about this in The Inner Game of Tennis. How he has to get players to stand somewhere that they can see their reflection so they can watch their swing. And then they see “Oh! I really am finishing too high”.

Because we really can be oblivious to what we’re actually doing compared to what we’re supposed to be doing – we all have Blind Spots.”

From those origins, the Feedback Carnival was born with this invitation for people to add their thoughts and observations; “Feedback would happen all the time if……”

carnival

So this post is my curation of all that insight to bring you some of the thinking that’s out there into one place.

A key point made by David Goddin in his post is that feedback benefits from being observations, not judgements, and so with this post my intention is to share the insights from all the contributions without judgement of whether they are right or wrong, good or bad. They are what they are and you will be able to read; debate with whoever will be helpful for you in that; and choose what is right for you – because some parts will be more helpful in some contexts than others. So while you read, I invite you to have your context and your purpose with feedback in your mind, and maybe start with a question.

What might help you?

What might help those around you?

What might help your organisation?

So, why should we care about feedback? What’s the purpose?

I think without exception, all the writers have believed that feedback is a helpful thing. Helpful for our personal development, and therefore helpful for those around us – and beyond – because it raises our awareness and so enables us to develop and improve what we do and how we do it, which improves ours and others performance, and therefore improves overall organisational results.

Peter Cook wrote a great example of how embracing feedback and doing something about it, coupled with persistence, got him the result he wanted for his career.

Heather Kinzie wrote about our fundamental human need of being wanted – or of receiving attention. This need for attention, which is very obvious in children, remains with us as we grow older, and feedback is one way in which we can meet this need in others. If someone’s given us feedback, they’ve seen us, they’ve noticed us, and they’ve cared enough to say something about it, and that has us feel OK – something Gemma Reucroft experienced when offering feedback to a colleague.

Kandy Woodfield acknowledges the purpose of feedback as providing a sense of belonging, a purpose, aspirational goals and trust in each other.

So the purpose of feedback isn’t just about that external results and performance stuff out there, it’s about the stuff that goes on inside each and every one of us every day. Perhaps if we took care of the internal stuff, the external would be more likely to take care of itself?

So what does that ‘helpful’ feedback place look like?

Many people acknowledge that feedback already happens all around us all the time, if we stop to notice it. However most of the content has focused on improving the ‘traditional’ work-based feedback situation. The place of ‘this is how you’re doing in your job’ or ‘this was the impact on me when you did that’.

As 70:20:10 learning strategies continue to be the focus for improved sustainability of learning, effective feedback will have to be central to that, given that it sits in the 70% of on-the-job learning, and in the 20% of coaching and mentoring, as well as in the 10% of classroom learning which  Rachel Burnham picked up on with some practical examples of making feedback part of a learning environment.

Jo Stephenson has a dream for how her future place of feedback will look “I’m dreaming of time when it’s common practice that feedback talk happens as standard, within the 1:1s I’m part of. It’s expected, it’s what we do here. We value it.”

Meg Peppin, Julie Drybrough and Gemma Reucroft all wrote about a place where feedback isn’t a separate ‘thing’ you ‘do’ it’s just part of the conversation between two or more people.

David Goddin read more

Can I measure that?

Image

The other day I was in a well-known DIY store (although it could have been in any one of the big retailers).  I couldn’t find the light bulbs I was looking for so I went to the front to ask for help.  There was a lady standing near the entrance, someone in a ‘greeter’ type of role – perfect!  And she was very helpful, took me to the desk to check stock levels and then took me to where it was in store.

As we walked away from the light bulb aisle she told me –

“I’m so glad you asked me for help.  I’m so bored because my manager’s told me I need to stand at the front all day, I’m not allowed to move from that spot, and I need to tell every customer that we’ve got X% off kitchens and bathrooms.  Half the people don’t even care!  I’m doing a job that a poster could do!!

My normal job is to be a proper greeter, helping people like you, getting to know what customers are after, having a chat about their day.  It’s so much more interesting.  If I’m honest, I think my manager’s trying to get rid of me, but I’m not that bothered.  He can if he wants to.”

What can I say.  That short conversation just summarised all that is wrong, all that has gone bad in a world of measures.  You can just imagine it –

The input – Regional Manager challenges their team to hit the sales targets of kitchens & bathrooms, ideally to sell the most in the country so they can be heralded ‘the best’ regional team!

The result – Store Managers find any way possible to sell, sell, sell!  Doesn’t matter how – just sell.  Blunt instrument to crack this particular nut – try and flog kitchens & bathrooms to anybody and everybody no matter what they actually came in for.  No relationships built, in fact many customers potentially put off by the hard sell, customers who may well go elsewhere next time they need something diy-related.

Not only that, you’ve got a manager taking a colleague away from a role she loves, just ‘telling’ her WHAT she has to do – not WHY, so she doesn’t believe in it.  And a manager who may have performance issues with this colleague but who hasn’t faced into them in a way that treats her with dignity, as a human being, to give her the chance to improve.

And do you know what, if he’d talked to her about why selling kitchens & bathrooms was important, and if he’d let her do that alongside her normal job of helping people, she might just be getting better results, and she’d be a lot happier too!

I’m not saying we shouldn’t measure sales, or any other ‘hard metric’ for that matter.  It would feel a tiny bit crazy to not know how much a retailer is selling, given that’s kinda what their business depends on!  But I really think there’s a big request of HR pros here to step forward and help their organisations to figure out a way to measure the ‘how’, so that the way people get their results is just as important as the results themselves.

What are the measures of success in your organisation?

Do they encourage people to achieve results in the best way?

How do you know?

[Thanks to http://freedomlightbulb.blogspot.co.uk/2011_11_01_archive.html for the picture]