NOTE: The May blog posts will not be updated this month, but check back soon for new updates.

  • Recognize When You are Just Accommodating

    The style of problem solving, and conflict resolution are the most important factors in determining group effectiveness. Research has shown that the predominant mode of conflict resolution that characterizes leadership and management groups is the most significant variable in determining whether or not companies are profitable.

    It is important for managers to understand the complexity of problem solving and conflict resolution. There are specific methods and techniques that managers do use and apply to be consistently effective. However, they should recognize there are other styles of conflict resolution that can be more effective, depending upon the circumstances and the makeup of the individuals involved.

    Smoothing and Avoiding

    These groups tend to be comprised of accommodating individuals who, when a problem or conflict occurs, will tend to define it in a manner that minimizes the differences between individuals. Their objective is to maintain the status quo within the group. As a whole, this method of conflict resolution is destructive because it does not address the central issues or actually resolve the sources of conflict. Consequently, these issues tend to fester within the group and will emerge later as a larger issue.

    The group norms that identify the smoothing and avoiding behavior include individuals who tend to withdraw when attacked in order to avoid conflict. Additionally, individual group members tend to keep their feelings and remarks in check so that they don’t surface. This effectively masks internal conflict and prevents the manager, as well as the group, from identifying the undercurrents that are present.

    Confronting and Problem Solving

    Confronting is a conflict resolution method that can represent the healthiest behavior. The members of this group tend to be collaborators. They will define the problem relative to the total organization’s needs versus their own. The outcomes of this group are interdependent if the total group benefits from the solution.

    The group norms that identify confronting and problem solving behavior include individuals who feel it is important to bring out and confront the differences of opinion and perspective within the group. They also feel that all solutions to conflict should be open and fair to all involved and to the organization as a whole. The group will tend to arrive at answers and solutions by reason rather than the application of personal power and authority.

    Learn to recognize when you, as the manager/leader, are just accommodating, not resolving the problem.

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  • Difference Between Telling and Requesting

    The linguistic difference between telling and requesting is that telling is used for:

    • Information, Education or Instructions, the how to
    • Take control of crises or crowds — to facilitate a greater order
    • Use rational thought to convey communication, not intuition or hunches
    • Does not elicit innovation, uses traditional didactic, one-way delivery

    Requesting is used for:

    • Inviting collaboration or the pursuit of common goals together
    • Asking to shift from one reality to what could be
    • To bring about social interaction between human beings

    Here are some specific ways to show respect without Telling:

    • Asking others “How would you feel if…” before making a decision which affects them
    • Voluntarily making changes and compromises to accommodate their feelings, desires and needs
    • Not interrupting their speech when relaying circumstances
    • Soliciting and allowing feedback. Trying to understand their beliefs, values and needs
    • Giving others the opportunity to solve their own problems without underestimating them, in particular:
      • Avoid telling others what to do
      • Avoid telling them what they ‘need’ to or ‘should’ do—no control language
      • Avoid giving them unsolicited advice, will appear as a sermon
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  • Resilience in the New Year of 2023

    To be at the center of a global crisis is to be part of an uncertain future. The change that is seen following a crisis is often a result of a collective will to evolve. Situations that seem life-altering while the experience is occurring often turn out to be mere blips in the evolution of society. Think of the Black Plague in the Middle Ages or the 1918 flu epidemic that ravaged the world. The Covid pandemic has been an accelerant of many of the trends that businesses have been experiencing in the past years such as:

    • The evolution of retail and growth in logistics and education
    • Working from home and the capacity to be a digital nomad
    • The development of online communications platforms
    • A recognition that there is a direct link between business and the environment

    The topic of mental well-being has been addressed over the past few years and has gained a greater degree of acceptance after the pandemic. Companies and families have taken a great leap forward in recognizing the importance of wellbeing, both physically and mentally. A valid question that needs to be considered is how we maintain visibility of the health of colleagues when they are away from the office workplace.

    In the drive to survive, all of us will need to reinforce our resilience. Resilience is a term that is often used to mean ‘bouncing back from a terrible event’ or ‘having strength to cope’, or ‘being determined to see things through to the end’. All these meanings imply people being mentally strong, sufficiently strong to maintain a sense of wellbeing while facing challenges. Personal resilience is ‘the capacity to coordinate actions that enable individuals, groups and communities (including controlled communities such as a workforce) to prevent, tolerate, overcome and be enhanced by adverse events and experiences. (Derek Mowbray 2010)

    As you and your colleagues think about the changes to your workload or routines, also include activities or ‘think-tanks’ that will help others to strengthen their resilience and resourcefulness.

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  • Establish Core Values for your New Year

    The holiday season is usually exciting for seasonal parties, both personal and professional. However, as many have found, they make New Year’s resolutions that may not serve them going forward. As in the past, they will be leading lives non-congruent with their core values, resulting in unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and disillusionment. This is not uncommon in making New Year’s resolutions or any plans for the future. We are all complex beings holding a various set of core values, not just those that are corporate related. Consider where your deep views rest: Patriotic Convictions, Importance of grandparents and relatives, Intellectual growth, financial ethics, Respect for others, Moral worldview, and Reverence for any higher source. Core values are not characteristics such as kindness, loyalty, or daring. They are the principles that are worth living or dying for.

    Meaningful success is a different value construct for each of us. We must define for ourselves what are the critical fundamentals we need from all efforts including self-expression, emotional fulfillment, psychological satisfaction, and spiritual joy. There is not an established rulebook on how you find your meaningful work and eventual success. You may not immediately see the realization of your efforts in your lifetime, but the legacy you leave will long be remembered by those that you served.

    Combining core values with what you think meaningful success could be can take reflection for an hour or a week. Use something as simple as paper and pencil or if you have some technical app to record your thoughts, go to it. Remember that any commitment (resolution) you make to yourself has components that make them feasible such as:

    • Have a clear vision of the final outcome(s) you desire, state the time period required; and include the expected steps for achievement. Write your resolutions on a poster board or in simple post-it notes that you can see daily as a reminder, boosting your resolve. Also, define how success will be measured. How will you know you have achieved what you initially intended?
    • Define any other sacrifices you may have to make such as reserving one night weekly for that family evening and moving on to another activity accordingly.
    • Discard self-reproach over arranging programs just for your fulfillment. If volunteering as a reading mentor or scheduling that reiki massage causes you guilt, consider that guilt is a learned response. History has proven that family units, cultural bands, or even devout faith-based groups teach contrition in self-indulgence.

    Remember ‘carpe diem’!

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  • Can You be More Accountable?

    As this year is winding down, many leaders are thinking about accountability in their workplace. Accountability in the workplace, and on a personal level, can dramatically impact the productivity of the workforce in every organization. Accountability is not goal achievement. Accountability is essentially a core value for each person and should be a fundamental pillar of a company’s culture. Being responsible is actually how an individual chooses to take action as the owner of achieving their own accountability standards.

    Also as has probably been demonstrated already, intentions are not accountability. Remember how New Year’s resolutions are not kept very long after being declared on New Year’s Eve? You hear colleagues and family members all explaining the circumstances of why they didn’t achieve those resolutions. It sometimes becomes more important to justify the story than the outcome itself. This is a demonstration of personal non-accountability. Repeatedly, you find the outcome was not fully investigated for proper resource or time allocation, as well as a valid regimen to adhere to, achieving the final end.

    In organizations, why does accountability seem to vacillate or falter entirely? These are some of the reasons:

    • Accountability is assumed to be a ‘suit’ you wear at the office. It is not appreciated as an authentic principle to be embodied at all times.
    • Accountability is not respected as part of the company’s identity, consequently, is demonstrated when it is convenient.
    • Informal leaders within a group defer to those with company status or power. You will hear comments such as, “I’m not the boss. It’s not my decision.”, or “I can’t make that level of decision.” True leaders are those that can build the capacity for action, motivate others to commit; and be accountable for the sum of their actions.
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