How to handle dissent on the team

How to handle dissent on the team

Who loves disagreement and dissent? Well, there might be a few who love the drama, but for the majority of leaders and co-workers, it’s not an item that we look forward to encountering. Dissent has to be addressed though in order to be an effective team that has high morale Today we’ll look at where it may come from and how to address it head-on. 

Understand the type of dissent that you are dealing with


Before you get in front of dissent happening on the team, you’ll be well served to understand what exactly you are getting in front of. Are you attempting to stop a squabble or an all-out rebellion? Here are different types of dissent that can show up in your team

Storming: a normal part of team building – Storming is a phrase that refers to the second phase of a team coming together. They’ve worked through the pleasantries of the introductions and now they are fighting to figure out direction, responsibilities, and influence. This phase will often work itself out as the team settles into roles, and what is expected. It is good however to check in and make sure that things haven’t gone too far off the rails. 

Personality differences – There will be times that you encounter an oil and water situation with two people; they simply don’t mix. Knowing that they never will, actually helps you as a coach and leader. You shouldn’t waste time and energy expecting these folks to magically become good friends. Instead, focus the coaching on how they can establish a working relationship. Address any performance issues here or behaviors that are counter to your company’s values. How to Handle Toxic People (Show 205) will help employees deal with those co-workers whom they truly don’t get along with.

A fear of change – Just like the rising sun, change is inevitable. No matter how along in your career journey you are or what your tenure is at an organization, change can be surprisingly hard sometimes. We all settle into our areas of comfort, and it can be difficult to change the dynamic or be asked to leave it altogether. The key here is up help the person understand 1) The Why behind the need. 2) How it impacts them. 3) How the change could positively impact that person. 

This conversation certainly isn’t a one-and-done discussion and will require you to check in to help them feel secure and informed on the change journey. Remember that their dissent is based on fear, so communicating and affirming in a way that mitigates that fear should be your goal. 

Detractors: misaligned employees –  Sometimes there are people who just aren’t aligned with what your team is trying to accomplish. There could be a number of reasons why that person now sits in this category, but the most important thing is that they are here now. When I do talent assessments with leaders, we make a collective commitment when people fall into this category. Either we rehabilitate these people to perform like they need to or we find a different position for them that better suits them. Our last course of action is to exit the employee, but even then we must walk the agreed-upon coaching plan first. leaving detractors on your team is detrimental to your business, and your mental health as they continue to drag you down and their influence can spread to others. 

Address the dissent


Once you determine the type of dissent, you’ll be better equipped on how to approach the situation. Regardless, these steps will help you as you address the issue:

  • Address it immediately, or at least as soon as professionally possible. Don’t let the rub or issue fester, but also balance the need to address it quickly with the appropriate setting to do so. You don’t want to embarrass someone and become unprofessional yourself. 

  • Be very clear on what the issue is. Clarity and brevity are best here. Communicate what you are observing (or what feedback you were given) 

  • Ask questions (when appropriate) and seek to listen and understand instead of react. Get a true understanding of their perspective and experience. This works well, especially for those with a fear of change, but this step will be less successful and sometimes unnecessary in situations like personality conflicts where someone acts unprofessionally. 

  • Set or re-establish expectations

  • Gain alignment and agreement with the other person

  • Establish expectations on behavior change and follow-up timeline. 

Don’t take all dissent that happens as a personal mark against your effectiveness as a leader. It’s part of a leader’s journey to address from time to time. Understand what you are dealing with and then address it in a way that all parties can move forward from. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Create authentic professional presence

Create authentic professional presence

I’ve completed thousands of talent calibrations and talent reviews in my years as a talent leader for organizations. One common theme that comes up year after year regardless of leveling in the organization is the idea of having a good professional or executive presence. 

Leaders are right, having an authentic professional presence can help you stand out, build a stronger network, accelerate projects, and accelerate career growth. Here are some tips to help you dial in your executive presence in the work that you do. 

Be yourself


I think that this is the most important thing to remember for yourself as you work to strengthen this skill in your own leadership toolkit or as you are coaching others through this topic.  Just because you have room for growth here doesn’t mean that you need to become someone you are not. 

If you try to push your professional presence outside of your identity – coming into a room or conversation that doesn’t match your personality, it will fall flat with others. They’ll see your efforts as fake or inauthentic. 

Authenticity doesn’t mean that you need to change how you speak and present yourself. It’s adapting to the level of the room, position, or need while being true to who is in the process. 

You can find a deeper dive into the importance of being authentic at our previous show Be Yourself (Show 127)

Be consistent


Consistency means being reliable and dependable across all channels of communication. It also means delivering on your promises and following through on your commitments. Related to authenticity; are you one as one way while “on stage” and totally different when you interact with others? Inconsistency can also show up in how you communicate. Are you a great presenter or coach, but your emails are off-putting? Do you come across as confident and an expert in written communication, but unsure of yourself in difficult conversations? 

Inconsistency can come from any number of areas and forms of communication and interactions. Check with your leaders, peers, and those on your team to get feedback on how consistent you are. 

Hold their engagement

One of the secrets to good executive presence is the ability to grab, and keep someone’s attention and engagement. It means having something valuable and relevant to say or offer. You need to be able to communicate your message clearly and persuasively. It’s very important that you know your audience, your purpose, and your value proposition.

You can also hold someone’s engagement by leveraging data-driven storytelling and using different channels, mediums, and illustrations to reach your audience. Break up how you communicate to keep things fresh for the audience. Also remember where your audience is coming from and their perspective and knowledge, that will help you cater your message in a way that connects with them. 

Areas to consider as you adjust to dial in your professional presence

  • Language: What words are you using as you communicate with others? Are there colloquials that you should avoid or industry speak that you need to stay away from or gravitate towards?

  • Your physical appearance: Do you look the part? In live settings, do you match what the expected audience is or are you over or under-dressed? For virtual environments is your lighting good and background complimentary?

  • Reading the temperature of the room: Having a good read on the room is vastly important as you strengthen your professional presence. Is the group lively or serious? How heavy of a topic or message are you trying to convey? 

Be open to feedback as you continue to strengthen your professional presence. You’ll be a more effective leader and communicator as you interact with others.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

How check-ins keep your people around longer

How check-ins keep your people around longer

A number of studies show that as an employee feels disconnected and unengaged with their work and their leadership, their likelihood of leaving the organization rises significantly. Check-ins, or formal times to sit down together and look at the larger picture, are key in order to keep people around for longer. Here are some ways check-ins positively impact your team, and the work they do.

Check-ins keep accountability in place


You’ve likely heard the term, “inspect what you expect.” It’s a phrase that’s used as a reminder to leaders that they shouldn’t lay out an objective and expect it magically come to a successful reality on its own. If it’s something that is important to you and the business, you need to check in on occasion to see how the progress is going. 

Check-ins are great for shared accountability, and that’s a good thing. Some people think of the term accountable as only negative, like someone is being reprimanded. That’s not the case at all. The accountability in check-ins is to see that we’ve made our agreed-upon progress in the finalized timeline. It’s a chance to celebrate or course correct as needed as well. 

Associates want that level of accountability and clarity as well. Imagine giving your best effort into a project only to realize that you are off the mark because the requirements changed as you neared the deadline. Check-ins are also a great time to hold their leader accountable for the resources and promises that were made during the last touchpoint. 

Check-ins keep things from hitting critical mass


It’s fairly common to look at big HR cases and draw a line back to a much smaller set of circumstances that snowballed into a massive breakdown for the associate and the business. 

Check-ins are a wonderful opportunity to discover those issues and course-correct them before they turn into monsters that you have to deal with later. During your check-in be sure to ask some things about the larger team and how relationships and dynamics are working (or not working). Understanding these situations early and having the willingness and managerial courage to step up to potentially difficult conversations will help prevent future escalations and flare-ups. You can literally save someone’s career by leveraging your relationship management skills during your check-ins. 

Check-ins are a compass for career growth


One of the most common themes that employees give about their leader and organizations is that no one has a career aspirations conversation with them. No one has asked them what they want to be or do at the company! Now, some of that could be that the leader is afraid to ask because they don’t want to know the answer. It could also be generational. Noone asked ever asked the leader, so the leader doesn’t put much thought into it for their own team. Regardless of the reason for the disconnect, regular check-ins provide an easy avenue to have some career-focused discussions. Discover their aspirations and help them make connections and acquired needed skills between check-ins. 

Check-ins show you care


Above all, check-ins show that you care about the other person. Your team knows that you have a busy schedule, so they appreciate and recognize the time that you take to sit down and have regular check-in conversations with them. It’s another great opportunity to build and strengthen a relational bond with the other person as well. 

If you don’t currently have a regular cadence for check-ins, I’d encourage you to do so with your team. Block the time for the next year on both calendars to prevent the time and tasks from getting the best of your positive intent. Your people deserve a regular time when they can get clarity on the role, share personal and professional progress, and feel like they have a clear line of sight for the next step in their career. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Ask great questions

Ask great questions

If you want to know a simple move to come across to others as more likable, engaging, and enjoyable to be around, you need to understand one fact; most people love to talk about themselves. That’s not a negative about the other person, most people find personal value in sharing with others. 

I’ve leveraged this knowledge several times in the past by going all in on asking a lot of great questions during my first few interactions with the person. It helps build rapport, fast-tracks relationships, and helps accelerate your career.  Today we’ll look at how great questions can serve your relationship-building skills and help you discover problems before they escalate to become larger issues. 

Ask great questions by listening

You’ll always want to start off with questions that get the person to open up and begin sharing information with you. Some good starting points include:

  • Open-ended questions around a shared purpose. This could be around the reason for the meeting or gathering. (What has been your favorite session at the conference so far? What are your thoughts on the CEO’s announcement last week? How do you think the recruiting season is going?)

  • Inquisitive in thier personal endevors. Questions that center on a person’s interests, hobbies, or passions are great starts to open a number of doors to further the conversation.  (What gives you energy, What are you working on outside of the job that gets you excited?) 

  • Listen to their reply for opportunities to dig further in or highlight a topic. (You said _______, tell me more about that.) This will continue a line of discussion until you have exhausted your questions or the topic naturally wraps itself up. 

The secret to a great facilitator is their ability to navigate a conversation by listening to what is said and then asking follow-up questions. It may almost seem effortless as they guide the group through self-discovery or the right path forward. That should be your goal as well. Listen for the right points to send the conversation deeper while doing it in a way that seems natural. It shouldn’t feel forced, inauthentic, or clumsy. 

Simplify your questions


There are going to be times when you have all sorts of thought-provoking questions in your head or you may really excited to hear more or receive additional details. As a result, you may bundle your questions without even realizing this. 

I was recently at a conference where a local well-known entrepreneur gave the morning keynote address and had a Q&A at the end. There was no shortage of questions from the audience! One attendee asked something along the lines of, ” What made you want to do this, what continues to inspire you and what are your goals for the future?” Those are all great questions, but the speaker had to pause and took a moment to process the bundled questions, ultimately missing one of the questions altogether. 

When you find your mind trying to bundle a bunch of questions, sort through them and pick up the most important 1 or 2. Ask one, and then the other as a follow-up if it’s still appropriate. You’ll keep your person engaged and get higher-quality answers as a result. 

Shoot for the deep but be satisfied with the surface


Mining the depths of a person’s thoughts, motivations and insights can be invaluable to getting a better understanding of the person and the topic at hand. Remember that not all conversations will go into the inner crevices of your mind and soul. Think of those deep conversations as cave diving. The surface-level conversations that you have are the safety gear and support systems so that you can safely travel down below. 

In conversations with some of my closest friends, we’ve discussed some very deep and personal topics. We’ll also talk about video games or running beforehand or afterward. Don’t be disappointed if a conversation doesn’t go as deep as you had hoped. Surface-level conversations carry value as well and provide a sense of trust and safety to go deeper into another conversation. 

Don’t be afraid to ask a question

Be brave and ask those questions that may make you look naive. It is better to approach it on the front end and learn valuable information as opposed to playing along and being left in the dark in directions or walking away with the wrong information. 

If the idea of putting yourself out there makes you nervous, address that as well to help you get through the conversation. I’ll often say something along the lines of, “Forgive my ignorance here, but can you tell me what _______ means?” or “This may be a naive question, but can you help me understand _____?”

Typically the other party is going to affirm that your question is in fact not dumb, and will be happy to help give more clarity. There is also a chance that someone else has the same question, but is too afraid to ask themselves. 

Keep those questions coming! Great, thought-provoking questions, help you and those around you grow in knowledge and trust. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Tips to strengthen your active listening skills

Tips to strengthen your active listening skills

We all want to be heard, valued, and appreciated.  Part of being heard and valued is actually letting other people fulfill that want and need. In order to effectively work with customers, co-workers, and even friends and family, you’ll need to leverage active listening skills in order to receive the whole message accurately and build trust with others.

Here are some tips to help you grow in your active listening efforts.

Clear the distractions


Think about all the distractions that you have going on around you on a daily basis. Your computer is pinging you with emails and instant messages, your phone is constantly nudging you and smart watches are pulling at you for a quick look. On top of all the technology barriers, are the real-life issues that you go through; maybe it’s a tough conversation that you need to have at work, relationship challenges in your personal life, or health issues that you going through.  Distractions everywhere!

All of those distractions are barriers when it comes to actively listening to clients, co-workers and friends, and family. Here are some tips to eliminate the distractions around you:

  • Lose the electronics: Put away all of your electronics so they won’t be a distraction for you. That means taking the phone off the table, closing the laptop or tablet, or setting your CPU to sleep mode. When I traveled a lot in operations, I would enter my visit on the laptop while having my wrap-up conversations with the leader. I thought it was a great use of my time in being to log the visit while still giving the person the time to share what they wanted to. What I learned is that I wasn’t getting the true vulnerable information that I needed to hear, because they felt like I was distracted. I still entered in my visits before I left, but I made sure I listened to the important stuff before opening up my laptop to do work.

  • Use your eyes to help your ears. If you are easily distracted or prone to be a very detailed focus person, your eyes can work against you while trying to actively listen to someone else and most random things that catch your attention will draw it away from the person sharing information with you. Try to focus your eyes on the person while they share. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it will get easier with time. If locking eye contact is far out of your comfort zone, try it in small segments and then focus on something else close by.

Utilize your skills for active listening


Active listening is all about listening with the intent to learn. Here are five areas to consider in order to be a better listener to others.

  1. Be attentive and lose the distractions!
  2. Ask Questions: Ask open-ended questions to show your level of engagement and probing questions to dig further into the topic being discussed.
  3. Reflect back: Paraphrase what you are hearing to confirm your understanding and reflect back on the feeling and tenor of emotion being communicated to you.
  4. Get clarity: Don’t be afraid to ask for further clarification as needed.
  5. Summarize: Summarize the conversation so the person feels good about their message being received and you have confidence in taking away the right message.

The benefits of active listening


Although all of your effort is going towards the other person, there are benefits that you will both receive as you strengthen your active listening skills.  

  • It opens the road to building trust. Actively listening to someone shows that you genuinely care about them, their thoughts, and their opinions.
  • Increases your approachability with others. When people see and know that you are truly listening, it makes you more approachable as a person and as a leader.
  • Saves you time (and money). Having great listening skills helps ensure that you get the information right the first time. It also cuts down on needed follow-up and clarification later.
  • Helps cut off problems early. Taking the time to really listen to someone helps you pick on the small but important aspects of the conversation. You’ll have a better opportunity to dig into what is being said, and what is not being said and pick up on subtle clues from the person’s non-verbal communication.

Active listening doesn’t have to be hard once you’ve rid yourself of the distraction and are making an intent to be involved in the conversation. Show others you care by taking the time to listen.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH