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Brittney Helt, Michelle Baker, tons of other helpful people and I have put the finishing touches on our newest book "Talent GPS: A Manager's Guide to Navigating the Employee Development Journey".
We will have the book at the bookstore for the ATD International Conference in May, as well as for sale online. This is a workbook for managers who want to do a better job managing the career paths of each of their employees. You can pre-order a copy for 50% off or $22.50 (list price $45) prior to 5/31/17 at this link. We'll sign the book before it heads out the door and you'll also get a special bit of fabulous merchandise.
If you guess the number of pages in the book (the ones with page numbers, not the extra stuff like preface, appendix, book cover, title page, etc.), you'll win a FREE book.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your answers.
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By taking a brutal look at ourselves and others, we can re-frame our mental models and our emotions to avoid these desperate chaotic dances. As we grow our emotional intelligence (EQ), we increase our focus and energy. We learn how to stop giving our energy away to other people who will suck us dry. There are opportunities in chaos. The whole world is full of new ideas and interesting people. Look at their faces, their walk, their job, their pain, their joy. Making time to connect with others even for just a fleeting second is one way to grow your emotional strength and energy. Technology can be a barrier or an asset to communicating with mindful application. People are not emails.
The trends in industries reveal our real needs. We strive to build collaborative processes, but can't quite get them into the hierarchies. Agile is a popular example. By definition, it only drives success when people are working together in collaboration. Similarly, in the Big Data world, Knowledge Management is a new-again buzz word. We are searching for the big red button that gives us more knowledge, but the acquisition of knowledge starts and ends with real people who did something. When we talk about something we've learned with another, both people's ideas are changed. Every time. Finally, we dream that everything we need is in the Cloud. But at the end of the Cloud, there is a person keeping an eye on a machine. Probably alone.
Our processes must evolve as we learn a new way :
Project Management: It's not about CONTROL, it's about COLLABORATION
Leadership: Instead of Dictating and Avoiding, Grow and Engage
Teams: Frantic and Urgent, Kills; Engaged and Needed, Innovates
Strategy: Impact over Deliverables
So we aspire to new ways of work, new ways to 'Get Real, Get Lean-ish.' Our human selves want connection, want learning, want purpose. Software and hardware can provide some artifacts but people connect, learn and share purpose. If these people are angry, tired, overworked and frantic, their emotions will not allow them to connect, learn or share purpose. Watching myself and the world, I started giggling about what we should really call our most impactful programs:
Senior Leadership Alignment
Play Nice Together... You're All on the Same Team
Realistic Project Management
You Can't Have Everything... Where Would You Put it?
Emotional Intelligence: The Power of YOU
Don't Give Away Your Energy... You Need It
It's All About the People... and You're a People Too
It's important to note that emotions are always a call to action, whether you are listening or not. Your body is constantly scanning for danger and a quick, negative emotional response can provide adrenaline and focus to fight, flight or freeze. There are times when things happen that require most of your brain and body to shut you down. There are appropriate times to stop everything else and be in the 'belly of the whale'. For example, if someone you love is ill, it's not a time to do deep breathing and ignore what's going on. We can learn the difference and choose our emotions intentionally by valuing the appropriate emotions and reframing the inappropriate.
I know you've got a lot to do and you are extremely busy. I'd love to tell you that I have a very simple solution to that hell, but like everything important, it's going to take prioritization, failure and hard work. EQ practices are simple and clear, but difficult to prioritize and practice.I'm going to share some tips for three areas of your emotional intelligence.
** If you would like a free EQ assessment which will provide you with more ideas you can practice to grow your emotional muscles, please email email@example.com or join us at our public workshop in Indy in May (see below).
Build a Toolkit: Self Awareness
Set an alarm on your phone for a couple of times during the day, at work and home. When the alarm goes off, take a moment to think about your emotional state. Just notice it. Once you've done that for awhile, try to notice without the alarm. Pay attention and notice when you feel your mood changing - whether negative or positive.
Build a Toolkit: Self Regulate
So, you've noticed that you are not in a good emotional state, and there's still time to get back to where you feel better and have more energy. My friend Tim Gallwey (Inner Game series author) taught me this message to say to myself "Isn't that interesting?". Treat yourself as a little experiment. Make no judgement about the emotion you are currently in. Take a few deep breaths, find a few things to be grateful for and begin to move back to your energetic self.
Here's a little exercise I call "the Hertz Rent-a-Car Bus" meditation. It's called this because I used it first when I was returning a car to the airport and as always, running late. I felt impatient with the guy giving me the rental car receipt. I ran with my bags to the rental car bus. I gritted my teeth in anger as the bus driver waited for other people. I felt my emotions becoming inappropriate. I noticed (awareness) and regulated with the following mental game:
Build a Toolkit: Empathy
As we rush and hide, we project our stress on innocent victims. We get mad that we have to wait in line and others notice. When we get to the front, the person we're talking to is rude and angry. We notice that our emotions are becoming inappropriate with a fleeting through that you should do something to 'pay them back'. Revenge is not good for your energy. Instead, think this: "I wonder what happened to this person today that made his emotions trigger this behavior". I learned this technique in a recent class, when a guy come in late with a big chip on his shoulder, and proceeded to gather other people to his table to share their angst together. I wanted to pay them back, and mostly him. At some point, I was able to think with Empathy - my ability to see others without judgment. I had the thought I just mentioned. It reframed MY behavior which eventually reframed his. Turns out, his boss forced him at the last minute to go to class (project management) because 'he was terrible at it'. He was the head of the projects department. Be gentle. We never know what is happening in someone else's life.
For more hand-on practice growing your best self through your emotions, take a deep EQ dive into our two day Power of You: EQ workshop in Indianapolis in April at the world-renowned Indianapolis Children's Museum.
2016 and continuing in 2017 seems to have ushered in a lot of anger, hostility, conflict, disconnect pitting us vs them. It saps my energy and I try to protect myself from it, like a bad storm that will blow over. These negative emotions trigger a human alienation causing people to divide into factions. To feel like you belong, you have to make sure that your philosophical group has clear walls around it that will keep others who don’t agree out.
I am as judgmental as the best, but I am most whole when I am able to connect people. It is what makes my heart sing. I cannot fathom people who seek to disconnect people. Perhaps, the chaos of our work has created so much exhaustion and pressure to be loved (but not being loved), our emotions are left to only their primal reptilian state: fight, flight and flee. I aspire to see that reframe, but like all of us, I've been hurt too. I know that an angry, emotionally immature person in this state cannot see - they are blind to logic, love and laughter. Instead of paying them back and escalating the dysfunction, I am trying to continue with logic, love and laughter but I fail also. I reframe by cherishing a well done project, the spring that is coming, the joy my family and friends bring me, and to do this requires me to simply stop. Join me.
Compare our current manic addiction to a Flashmob:
A flashmob requires that people who barely (if at all) know each other, share a social media defined adventure, show up, implement something, then leave. Although a group experience, strangers stay strangers in many cases. We work as if we have been invited to many flashmobs during the day. Multitasking everything and telling everyone we're busy is the norm. Urgent kills importance. We're always behind for the next flashmob, not quite prepared, not really doing it right and worrying about it constantly. We pack every minute with no time to spare.
I can't wait to find a place to sit without talking to anyone and get something done. I covet hiding from people. I frantically check off tasks to prove my value in the world. I succumb to the every day (minute?) battle of trying to process all my emails. I run out of my hiding place embarrassed that I'm always late for my next commitment. Everything in this scenario is about my emotions. And emotions are a choice; a muscle that we can grow if we stop running around like idiots.
Let's unpack some of these words: Without talking, Get something done, Hiding, Frantic, Check off tasks, Prove my value, Battle my emails, Run embarrassed and late, Commitment. These words don't sound like I have a very healthy, whole life experience. So, let's add guilt to the list to finish things up in a self-loathing way. Ramping up negative emotions ensures that your emotional intelligence will sap your energy. It's a negative reinforcing loop - the faster we go, the more mistakes, the more self-loathing, the faster we go, etc. Enough of these negative loops drives your body to try to stop you using health issues. Negative emotions are your body's alarm.
There are clear indicators when I am off my game:
I don't think it's just me. I'm not alone hiding at the coffee shop. On planes we sit alone side by side. In chaos, we are frantically trying to earn respect and fulfillment by running faster and crazier than anyone else. It's a crazy, dysfunctional race.
Here's a grand picture of 14 Leprechauns. It's a puzzle of three large pieces. The second image will show the top two piece flipped. Now you see 15 leprechauns instead of 14!
Tell us how this happened and you'll win FABULOUS MERCHANDISE! Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. ALL answers will win some type of fun merch! Slainte!
Challenge: Guinea worm disease
Intervention: Focused on 3 vital behaviors: 1) filter drinking water 2) don’t enter the drinking water with infected limbs 3) hold other members accountable to doing the first two behaviors.
Results: Reduced the number of Guinea worm cases from 3.5 million in 1986 to fewer than 10,000 by 2006. 11 of the 20 countries considered endemic in 1986 were certified as free of the Guinea worm disease as of 2007. Source
Challenge: Scientist collaboration
Research conducted at Bell Labs has shown that the single best predictor of two scientists collaborating with one another was actually the distance between their offices. Namely, scientists who worked next to each other were three times more likely to collaborate than those who worked 30 feet from each other. Similar results confirming the importance of proximity have been replicated in other studies. Source
Conclusion: The leprechaun is actually persuading not influencing. He's not after a win/win. To get your project done well requires your stakeholders. Influencing them to participate is a win/win. Here are some additional tips to help you grow your influencing muscle:
I attended a session at Training 2017 on a book I read years ago Influencers: The Power to Change Anything. They recommend integrating four or more different influencing strategies to connect effectively. Later in this article, you'll learn of the six influencing types from the Influencers book.
Most project managers stick with one, for example, threaten the stakeholders by escalating to their leaders. If you do this because you haven't thought through your influencing options, you may get you the opposite results than what you want. Before you try anything, think through these:
Vital Behaviors for Weight Loss
What are the 3 Vital Behaviors for losing 40 lbs and keeping it off?
Here are the six influencing strategies from the book. Pay special attention to the headings. There are three types of influences: Personal (influencing self), Social(influencing others) and Structural (influencing interventions and processes). The two columns leverage Motivation (I want to do it) and Ability (I am able to do it). The six combinations are explained below.
Personal Love what you hate Do what you can't
Social Create accomplices Accomplices become friends
Structural What's the carrot? Build Fences
1. Personal Motivation: Love What You Hate
Cleaning up your dishes after you eat can be re-framed as showing you love your family, or make it into a game. Project status meetings can be tweaked to be quick standing updates. In our PM workshops we say that the most powerful thing you can do is consistently send status reports at the same time each week to your stakeholders. To them, whether they read the report or not, you'll appear to be organized and focused on what must be an important project.
2. Personal Ability: Do What You Can't
I'm guilty of assuming that others have a lack of motivation. Michael Ayers, a brilliant friend retired from 3M told me that 'if you have to explain something to someone more than three times, it's not ignorance, it's resistance'. If I believe that a person doesn't understand, I keep explaining it in new ways. If it's resistance, that will never work. Resistance requires influence. Figure out the Vital Behavior that will influence resistance.
3. Harness Peer Pressure: Create Accomplices
Peer pressure can provide incredible power to enact behavioral change. There are some really scary studies about what people will do with the support of peers. Engage Project Stakeholders as respected opinion leaders. Ask them questions and request their thoughts. You will soon have champion peers for your project.
4. Find Strength in Numbers: Accomplices Become Friends
Forio.com sells an organizational change simulation that teaches activities to do that influence change. As you play, you quickly learn that communication is the most critical and can take many forms. In today's multitasking day, many project managers are too busy to take the time to plan critical stakeholder communication. In the absence of a message, people always make up their own, and it's usually not positive. Leave a communication void, and reap the disengagement of stakeholders. Engage them by communicating in multiple ways - quick texts, pictures, online meetings, etc. to help spread your project message.
5. Design Rewards and Demand Accountability: What's the Carrot?
It is often said that what gets measured gets rewarded. We value what we measure, and sometimes we're measuring what is easy to measure rather than what's relevant. Why would anyone want to read mountains of Critical Path diagrams? In truth, are the project documents you're sharing with your stakeholders understandable from where they are sitting? Why should they care? Isn't that your job? Project Status meetings degrade into role recitation, and eventually become meaningless. Do something to make stakeholders want to participate - fun snacks, prizes, visual documents that don't paralyze the eyes - whatever it takes. If you aren't prepared for the meeting, cancel it.
6. Change the Environment: Build Fences
Sometimes simple changes in the project's physical environment can influence behavior. At NextGear, I visited a giant facility with two Agile teams in each office. They were encouraged to name their team, decorate their space and actually change it any time they wanted. This built an engaged team and the competition drove fun and innovation which landed on their project enthusiasm as well.
To influence effectively requires two capacities:
"… this essential ability to exercise self control and delay gratification in the service of a longer term plan – this capacity can be developed, learned, increased or grown through practice and training. We know now what Dr. Mischel and colleagues did not in the 60’s – that the brain the constantly reshaped by experience. It is plastic, moldable, shapeable. This experience-dependent change takes place in neural pathways and in the broad connectivity of these pathways in neural networks. It occurs on many levels, from cellular changes in learning to larger scale changes in neural activation and coordination due to highly repetitive (expert) experience. Up until recently, there was a very wide consensus that brain structure is relatively fixed after a critical period during early childhood. This belief has been challenged by a long and consistent stream of findings from neuroscience showing that many aspects of the brain remain plastic even into adulthood." Source
Small, intentional distractions can help you manage the temptation to do the wrong thing. Influence is the same way - small practices can grow solid relationships. You don't have to be born with influence.
Commit to meeting someone different for lunch one day a week. Practice mingling. When you see a small article or post that someone else might find interesting, share it with them or share it on LinkedIn. You have the ability to learn to influence.
Two of my favorite words are Play and Learn. Two of the smartest people I know on both topics are Sharon Boller and Karl Kapp. They have written a book that is more a deep dive learning experience to integrate Play and Learn and drive more effective learning and organizational performance. We’ve had methodologies for instructional design and others for building games and finally now both, put together so well that even new developers will find a solid path to honor the way people learn through games. Put this on a bookshelf very close to your desk. And here’s a sweet treat – I have permission to offer you a discount...
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