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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Google's Discovery About the Secret to Success at Work











I wrote this title because people will likely read it – we love secrets to success, and if they are surprising, all the better. Depending on your beliefs and experience, this post may be neither. Either way, what am about to share will make a difference for you professionally and for the organization you serve.

This Washington Post article got me thinking about this topic. The article is about what Google has learned about the most important skills they need. The surprise, at least to Google, was that technical skills weren’t at the top of the list. 

To quote from the article:

"In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas."

This is significant; one of the organizations that most relies on and had until that point focused hiring on the very best technical ability says that those abilities are the 8th most important to their organizations success.

To put it in another way, technical skills are the admission to the game, but winning takes far more than that.

Look at the rest of that list…

Coaching skills
Communicating and listening well.
Possessing insights into others.
Empathy.
Critical thinking and problem solving.
Making connections across complex ideas.

The first four of those are 100% interpersonal and people skills; what the article calls the soft skills. And since businesses (even Google, the technical giant) are made up of people, it makes sense.

The Forest and the Trees
You’ve heard the metaphor of not being able to see the forest for the trees – this situation is informed perfectly by this metaphor. Our organizations want the technical skills, whatever they are: finance, engineering, marketing, operations – name the technical expertise that is important to your organization.  These are the trees.  We must have trees in order to have a forest, but the forest is more than individual trees, it is a living system with all of the trees working together symbiotically for mutual success.

Hiring only for technical competence focuses you on the trees; but your organization is a forest.

It is easier to hire for technical skill – many of these skills are testable, tangible and resumes are filled with testaments to these skills. Easier – but not more effective.
It is harder to seek, suss out and select for the softer skills, like but not inclusive of those on the list above.  But if you want a successful resilient organization you must do the hard work of hiring for soft skills.

The Message For You Personally
I’ve taken an organization focus so far, but let me make the point personally now.  Organizational success is about people skills, so your personal success must rest on that foundation.  You need to be focused on building your technical or job skills – and while those are important (you need to stay abreast of changes in your field of expertise), they are enough – again they simply buy you entrance to the game.

If you want to play the game at a higher level you must build you interpersonal skills with the level of dedication and focus they deserve.

The Secret?
By now you know the secret.  The secret to success is being able to communicate with, interact with, collaborate with, and influence people.  Time spent investing in learning, improving and practicing those skills are the best investment you can make in your future success at work and in life.


To your greater success,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
SMART DEVELOPMENT

Take the Next Step... 

Interested in learning how soft skills training and coaching can benefit your organization? We begin with a collaborative discovery process identifying your unique needs and business issues. To request an interview with Peter Mclees please contact: 
Email: petercmclees@gmail.com  or  Mobile:323-854-1713
Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. 


Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Single Most Expensive Mistake a Leader Can Make










The single most expensive mistake an manager can make is buying into the management myth:

"There isn’t enough time to coach people."

This myth comes from the fact that there are only 168 hours in a week and you have zillions of demands on your time—you have your own tasks and projects besides your management responsibilities.

What is the reality? Since your time is so limited, you definitely don’t have time not to manage-coach your people. Managers who do not prioritize time coaching people always spend lots of time managing people anyway. That’s because when a manager avoids spending time up front in advance making sure things go right, things often go wrong. Small problems pile up. Often, small problems fester unattended until they become so big they cannot be ignored. By that point, the manager has no choice but to chase down the problems and solve them. 

In crisis, the manager is virtually guaranteed to be less efficient, a further waste of time. So, these managers run around solving problems that never had to happen, getting big problems under control that should have been solved easily, recouping squandered resources, dealing with long-standing performance problems, feeling even more pressed for time.

That means in all likelihood, they will go right back to avoiding coaching people, and the next time they’ll make time for coaching is the next time there is another big problem to chase down and solve.

Remember, that the time you spend managing is “high-leverage time.” By coaching, you engage the productive capacity of your people. For every, say, twenty-minute coaching conversation you have with an employee, you should be engaging hours or maybe days of the employee’s productive capacity. If that twenty-minute conversation is effective, that twenty minutes of coaching should substantially improve the quality and output of the employee’s work for hours or days. That’s a good return on investment—that’s why it’s called “high-leverage time.”

When managers do not coach and proactively communicate: 

Problems hide below the radar. 
Problems occur that never had to occur. 
Problems get out of control that could have been solved. 
Resources are squandered. 
People go in the wrong direction for weeks or months without realizing it. 
Low performers hide out and collect paychecks. 
Mediocre performers start to think they're high performers. 
High performers get frustrated and think of leaving. 
Managers do tasks that should have been delegated.

Also, your team should be getting more capable over time. Think about it this way. As a leader of a team, on day one, your team has a certain capacity. Your team can deliver a certain amount of work, in a certain amount of time, at a particular level of quality and complexity. They have a certain amount of knowledge and particular level of ability to perform. This is their capacity on day one.

If, after a year goes by, you have delivered everything you been asked, you have done part of your job. But if your team is not more capable in some way--if they can't deliver more, better, faster, or higher quality--or if they have no new knowledge, skills or ability to perform at a higher level, you have not done the second part of your job. You have not coached and developed in order to increase the capacity of the team.

The Secret of the 5% Solution

Many managers when exhorted to coach more and boss less will rightly say, “But my plate is already full. I can’t handle one more obligation. I rarely see my people because I’m so busy and they are scattered all over the place. There’s no way I can do all this.” 

You face a dilemma: Simple solutions don’t work for development, yet you don’t have time for complex solutions. So you need a coaching process that attacks the true challenges of getting a variety of people to change and yet is still manageable in light of available time and resources. That process is the 5% solution. 

You can be effective and efficient if you focus 5% of your energy and attention on coaching and development. Working smarter—not harder—helps you make the best investment of your time. The secret of efficient coaching is to know your priorities and then to create and seize coaching opportunities that arise in the course of your everyday work. If you are prepared, you can leverage a relatively small investment of your time into a walloping payback. 

There's a time management maxim that says, "We always find time for the things that we think are important."

Start scheduling time for coaching and watch your people grow and and improve.

Research by the Gallup organization supports the notion that you don't have time NOT to coach your people. Gallup's conclusion is that Failing to develop leaders is the single most expensive mistake a leader can make. Click here to read the article.


To your greater success,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Facilitator and Performance Consultant
SMART DEVELOPMENT

Take the Next Step ...

Interested in learning how leadership coaching and training can benefit you and your organization? We begin with a collaborative discovery process identifying your unique needs and business issues. To request an interview with Peter Mclees please contact: 

Email: petercmclees@gmail.com or Mobile: 323-854-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. 

Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.


Friday, April 13, 2018

3 Key Steps to Measure the Impact of Coaching














Leaders who have experienced coaching can easily state their opinion about whether or not the development strategy had a positive impact. After all, effective coaching can be the best experience leaders have ever had in terms of supporting their own development and growth.

But actually measuring the impact of leader growth can be tough. For example, how does an organization measure the potential improvement of a leader’s influence on her team if she learns to stop belittling them? Or how a leader who elevates his executive presence will make a bigger contribution to the organization? Or how much improving communication will affect the profitability of a company?

Can the true impact of coaching be measured?

The answer is: it depends. Here are three key steps organizations can take to simplify the measurement process.

Be specific. What exactly does the organization want to change? Now be more If that change is successful, what will be the quantifiable outcome? Now put a dollar amount to the change.

Be clear with the leader/coachee about expectations. Specify the new behaviors and outcomes desired. It’s not enough to say improve communication. With whom? To what end? What would the improvement look like? What specific behaviors are necessary? How will the organization know that the change has been made?

Follow through. Engage appropriate people in the organization to observe and report on behavior change. An observer could be an HR business partner, a mentor of the leader being coached, a supervisor, or a member of the board. Ensure these observers are clear on expectations and outcomes. Provide tools, resources, and information on how to measure outcomes. 

Leaders need eyes and ears in the organization, as well as their coach, to help ensure changes made are on target to meet expectations.

The cornerstone of coaching is confidentiality—but this does not mean the leader being coached is left on their own to grow, learn, and develop without organizational insight. 

Being explicit on the front end about outcomes and ensuring all parties are in agreement about goals helps with measurement and evaluation when coaching is finished; i.e.:

+ Here is the specific target that was set.
+ Did the coachee meet the target?
+ Has the impact of that outcome been observed?
+ Has it been sustained over time?

Paying more attention at the beginning of any coaching engagement will make it simpler to measure and evaluate at the end.


To your greater success,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
SMART DEVELOPMENT

Take the Next Step... 

Interested in learning how coaching can benefit your organization? We begin with a collaborative discovery process identifying your unique needs and business issues. To request an interview with Peter Mclees please contact: 
Email: petercmclees@gmail.com  or  Mobile:323-854-1713
Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. 

Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.







Sunday, April 1, 2018

5 Ways to Transform Empty Accountability into Real Accountability

Accountability has long had a finger-pointing overtone that often triggers a fight or flight response (Read: defensiveness). There’s a sense of being reprimanded for what hasn’t been done.

Being “held accountable” conjures dangling feet as a gangster type holds you up against a wall.

It’s also a empty catchall buzzword – almost always directed toward others. “We’d be more successful if only our team was more accountable.” 

And yet the reason accountability often gets an eye-roll, is it feels condescending and demeaning. When most of us agree to do things, when we take on commitments, it’s with the best of intentions. We think we can. We want to. We hope to. We strive to. We desire to complete said task by the time we said we would. We’re not liars, deceivers, connivers, agreeing to take something on with no intention of following through.

So how did we get here? Where we desperately want accountability in our organizations and yet, it feels elusive. 

5 Ways to Transform Accountability

1) Change the definition:

Accountability, said another way, is the ABILITY to COUNT. When we choose to be responsible – ABLE to RESPOND, then we have a chance to make a meaningful difference through our work.
  • A chance to create progress
  • A chance to help, to support, to create, to demonstrate, to alleviate, to revitalize, to expand, to open, to simplify…
  • A chance to forward the meaningfulness of what we’re up to in the world as a workplace community
Real accountability is not about imposing punishments on people when they mess up. It's about getting in the habit of giving an account of performance on an ongoing basis. For the individual, it's the ability and willingness to follow through on your own promises and commitments.

2) Change the manager approach and employee experience:

Accountability is often a top down experience. As the parent scolds the child for not doing chores, the manager questions the employee for not doing tasks.

As a manager, accountability is your responsibility to actively notice your people. To witness them – to praise their successes when they are able to respond and when their work makes a meaningful contribution. As well as support, guide and direct them in their challenges when they are struggling or not bringing their “A” game.

3) Change ownership and add peer witnessing:

Implement “Cadence of Accountability,” a rhythmic meeting process that comes from the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Once a week small work teams come together for a 10-15 minute standing meeting in which each individual self-defines and declares the 1-3 tasks they are committing to accomplishing that week to strategically move forward the current team goal. And they report on their follow through (or lack thereof) on the task(s) they declared the week before. This simple process is great on several levels – my favorite of which is empowering peer pressure and support.

4) Change the context from morality to workability:

Accountability isn’t about being wrong or right, or about someone being good or bad. It’s simply about follow through on getting the work that needs to be done, done. When there’s a lack of alignment between commitments and completion, refer to the “Whole Integrity Checklist.” 

5) Think of accountability as a dial with five steps (Or notches):

You start at the low end and then turn up the dial if necessary.

It’s the first three steps — what are called the mention, the invitation, and the conversation — that most managers skip over, leading to employee disengagement and cultural stagnation. The last two steps, what are called the boundary and the limit, cover the ground of PIPs and termination, albeit in a far more humanistic and supportive frame. 

Fortunately, most managers have to use these more extreme steps only rarely; unfortunately, too many managers jump right to them, bypassing the first three steps and leaving employees blindsided by tough feedback that too frequently falls on deaf ears.

The first three steps cover the essential skills of naming, framing, and unpacking performance issues in a way that quickly moves from surface-level events to meaningful and actionable personal growth themes:

The mention. The first step is naming small but problematic behaviors in an informal way in real time. By pulling an employee aside to put words to what you’re noticing, instead of waiting for a crisis, you start to build a relationship of mutual respect. You show that you genuinely care about their growth by acknowledging that they’re overwhelmed instead of pretending you don’t see and by helping them find their contribution to a conflict instead of letting it fester.

The invitation. We’re great at seeing patterns in other people’s behavior; it’s harder to see those patterns in ourselves. The invitation is taking the time to help your employee connect the dots. For example, let’s say you saw typos in a team member’s customer email on Monday, they seemed disengaged in a team meeting on Wednesday, and then there was a miscommunication with a teammate on Thursday. Ask them what those events might have in common, or point to a deeper theme.

The conversation. This is the place to go deeper, by asking questions that guide people to the “aha!” moment, when they discover for themselves how changing this pattern at work would have positive impacts at home. It might sound something like this: “We’ve been talking about you taking on too many projects and the impact that’s having on the quality of the most important ones. I’m not asking for you to share what you come up with here, but one question that helps me is, ‘Where does this pattern show up in my personal life, and what would be the benefit if I stopped?’”

The key to building the bridge between work performance and personal growth is to focus on impacts. How are people showing up in a way that is making life harder, more complicated, or more frustrating for the people around them? It’s your job to guide them to make those connections. It’s their job to do the work from there.

In short, be observant and address problems that you see. Follow up with your employee to let them know it’s important. Then walk it down with them — to the place where the line between personal and professional growth disappears. Not because you’ve gone over that line, but because you’re treating them as a whole person.

At work as in life, we all need the people who care about us to reflect us back to ourselves, to be centered enough in themselves to let us work through our initial defensiveness and excuses so that we can let them go and get back to the work of becoming a better version of ourselves. Accountability can help do that.

In case you missed it, check out our related article: 

How to Get Clarity, Accountability and Results in Five Minutes




To your greater success and fulfillment,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
SMART DEVELOPMENT
Email: petercmclees@gmail.com
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. 

Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Transform Empty Accountability into Real Accountability

Accountability has long had a finger-pointing overtone that often triggers a fight or flight response (Read: defensiveness). There’s a sense of being reprimanded for what hasn’t been done.

Being “held accountable” conjures dangling feet as a gangster type holds you up against a wall.

It’s also a empty catchall buzzword – almost always directed toward others. “We’d be more successful if only our team was more accountable.” 


And yet the reason accountability often gets an eye-roll, is it feels condescending and demeaning. When most of us agree to do things, when we take on commitments, it’s with the best of intentions. We think we can. We want to. We hope to. We strive to. We desire to complete said task by the time we said we would. We’re not liars, deceivers, connivers, agreeing to take something on with no intention of following through.

So how did we get here? Where we desperately want accountability in our organizations and yet, it feels elusive. 

5 Ways to Transform Accountability

1) Change the definition:

Accountability, said another way, is the ABILITY to COUNT. When we choose to be responsible – ABLE to RESPOND, then we have a chance to make a meaningful difference through our work.
  • A chance to create progress
  • A chance to help, to support, to create, to demonstrate, to alleviate, to revitalize, to expand, to open, to simplify…
  • A chance to forward the meaningfulness of what we’re up to in the world as a workplace community
Real accountability is not about imposing punishments on people when they mess up. It's about getting in the habit of giving an account of performance on an ongoing basis. For the individual, it's the ability and willingness to follow through on your own promises and commitments.

2) Change the manager approach and employee experience:

Accountability is often a top down experience. As the parent scolds the child for not doing chores, the manager questions the employee for not doing tasks.

As a manager, accountability is your responsibility to actively notice your people. To witness them – to praise their successes when they are able to respond and when their work makes a meaningful contribution. As well as support, guide or direct them in their challenges when they are struggling or not bringing their “A” game.

3) Change ownership and add peer witnessing:

Implement “Cadence of Accountability,” a rhythmic meeting process that comes from the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution. Once a week small work teams come together for a 10-15 minute standing meeting in which each individual self-defines and declares the 1-3 tasks they are committing to accomplishing that week to strategically move forward the current team goal. And they report on their follow through (or lack thereof) on the task(s) they declared the week before. This simple process is great on several levels – my favorite of which is empowering peer pressure and support.

4) Change the context from morality to workability:

Accountability isn’t about being wrong or right, or about someone being good or bad. It’s simply about follow through on getting the work that needs to be done, done. When there’s a lack of alignment between commitments and completion, refer to the “Whole Integrity Checklist.” 

5) Think of accountability as a dial with five steps (Or notches):

You start at the low end and then turn up the dial if necessary.

It’s the first three steps — what are called the mention, the invitation, and the conversation — that most managers skip over, leading to employee disengagement and cultural stagnation. The last two steps, what are called the boundary and the limit, cover the ground of PIPs and termination, albeit in a far more humanistic and supportive frame. 

Fortunately, most managers have to use these more extreme steps only rarely; unfortunately, too many managers jump right to them, bypassing the first three steps and leaving employees blindsided by tough feedback that too frequently falls on deaf ears.

The first three steps cover the essential skills of naming, framing, and unpacking performance issues in a way that quickly moves from surface-level events to meaningful and actionable personal growth themes:

The mention. The first step is naming small but problematic behaviors in an informal way in real time. By pulling an employee aside to put words to what you’re noticing, instead of waiting for a crisis, you start to build a relationship of mutual respect. You show that you genuinely care about their growth by acknowledging that they’re overwhelmed instead of pretending you don’t see and by helping them find their contribution to a conflict instead of letting it fester.

The invitation. We’re great at seeing patterns in other people’s behavior; it’s harder to see those patterns in ourselves. The invitation is taking the time to help your employee connect the dots. For example, let’s say you saw typos in a team member’s customer email on Monday, they seemed disengaged in a team meeting on Wednesday, and then there was a miscommunication with a teammate on Thursday. Ask them what those events might have in common, or point to a deeper theme.

The conversation. This is the place to go deeper, by asking questions that guide people to the “aha!” moment, when they discover for themselves how changing this pattern at work would have positive impacts at home. It might sound something like this: “We’ve been talking about you taking on too many projects and the impact that’s having on the quality of the most important ones. I’m not asking for you to share what you come up with here, but one question that helps me is, ‘Where does this pattern show up in my personal life, and what would be the benefit if I stopped?’”

The key to building the bridge between work performance and personal growth is to focus on impacts. How are people showing up in a way that is making life harder, more complicated, or more frustrating for the people around them? It’s your job to guide them to make those connections. It’s their job to do the work from there.

In short, be observant and address problems that you see. Follow up with your employee to let them know it’s important. Then walk it down with them — to the place where the line between personal and professional growth disappears. Not because you’ve gone over that line, but because you’re treating them as a whole person.

At work as in life, we all need the people who care about us to reflect us back to ourselves, to be centered enough in themselves to let us work through our initial defensiveness and excuses so that we can let them go and get back to the work of becoming a better version of ourselves. Accountability can help do that.

In case you missed it, check out our related articles: 

How to Get Clarity, Accountability and Results in 5 Minutes

Accountability: How the Best Managers Get People To Take Ownership


To your greater success and fulfillment,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
SMART DEVELOPMENT
Email: petercmclees@gmail.com
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. 

Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Building Rapport: Establishing Strong Two-Way Connections











Establishing Strong Two-Way Connections

Reach out and build a rapport with those around you.

Have you ever known people who have a knack for connecting with others? No matter who they meet, they manage to create a sense of trust and understanding within minutes.

It doesn't matter what industry you're in or what position you hold – knowing how to build rapport can bring you countless opportunities. After all, when you have a rapport with someone, he or she will usually want to help you to succeed.

Some people might argue that this is all a natural gift – either you can build rapport with people or you can't. However, this is not the whole story. Rapport can develop naturally, but anyone can also nurture and improve rapport, just as they can any other skill.

So what is rapport, and how can you become skilled at developing it? We'll examine this, and more, in this article.

What Is Rapport?

Rapport forms the basis of meaningful, close and harmonious relationships between people. It's the sense of connection that you get when you meet someone you like and trust, and whose point of view you understand. It's the bond that forms when you discover that you share one another's values and priorities in life.

According to researchers Linda Tickle-Degnen and Robert Rosenthal, when you have a rapport with someone, you share:
  • Mutual attentiveness: you're both focused on, and interested in, what the other person is saying or doing.
  • Positivity: you're both friendly and happy, and you show care and concern for one another.
  • Coordination: you feel "in sync" with one another, so that you share a common understanding. Your energy levels, tone and body language are also similar.
This connection can appear instantly – when you "click" with someone – or develop slowly, over time. It can grow naturally, without intent, or you can deliberately set out to build it.

Rapport isn't just a tool for building relationships, though; it's often the foundation of success. When you have a rapport with someone, you're better placed to influence, learn and teach, particularly as the trust that you've built up means other people are more likely to accept your ideas, to share information, and to create opportunities together.

Whether you're being interviewed  for a job, selling  something, or trying to improve a relationship , knowing how to build rapport can help you to perform successfully.

Tip:

Rapport is similar to trust. You can build trust  and rapport simultaneously, but rapport focuses more on establishing a bond or connection, whereas trust relies more on establishing a reputation for reliability, consistency and keeping your promises.

How to Build Rapport

Rapport must be a two-way connection between people, so it's not something that you can create by yourself. You can, however, learn how to stimulate it by following these six steps.

Warning:

Use your best judgment when applying these techniques. Be sure not to use them cynically or dishonestly, to sell people something that they wouldn't otherwise want, for example, or to manipulate them into a course of action that's against their best interests.

1. Check Your Appearance

First impressions count , and your appearance should help you to connect with people, not create a barrier. A good rule of thumb is to dress just a little "better" than the people you're about to meet. However, if you arrive and see that you're overdressed, you can quickly dress down to suit the situation.

2. Remember the Basics

Always remember the basics of good communication :

  • Be culturally appropriate .
  • Smile.
  • Relax .
  • Remember  and use people's names throughout the conversation.
  • Hold your head up and maintain a good posture.
  • Listen carefully and attentively .
  • Don't outstay your welcome.
  • These basic tenets form the foundation of great communication. It will be hard to establish rapport without them, as they will help you to establish trust, empathy, and a feeling in people that you are listening to them.
3. Find Common Ground

Identifying common ground can help to establish rapport, so use small talk  to find something that you both share.

Most people like talking about themselves, and the more genuine interest you show in them, the more likely they are to relax and "open up." Use open-ended questions to discover personal information: perhaps you attended the same college, share the same hobbies, grew up in the same city, or support the same sports team. Even just expressing your shared frustration at the traffic that delayed your journeys to work can help you to draw closer to someone.

Tip 1:

It's important to be genuine  and sincere, and to avoid overdoing things. Don't make up an interest or try too hard, just to create rapport. Not only can this seem desperate and off-putting, but it can also dent your credibility!

Tip 2:

Laughter is a great tool for building rapport, but do use humor with care. Not everyone can tell a joke, and what might seem like acceptable sarcasm to you could cause offense to somebody else. If you think there's a possibility that a comment might be taken the wrong way, don't make it.

4. Create Shared Experiences

Rapport can't grow without human interaction, and a great way to interact is to create new, shared experiences. Shared experiences can be as simple as attending the same conference session together, or as complex as cooperating on a new management process. Working collaboratively to define problems, devise solutions, and design strategies, for example, can help to bring you and the other person closer.

5. Be Empathic

Empathy  is about understanding other people by seeing things from their perspective, and recognizing their emotions. So, to understand and share another person's perspective, you need to learn what makes him tick. As we've already mentioned, many people enjoy talking about their likes and dislikes, needs and wants, and problems and successes, so ask open-ended questions and give them space to talk.

You need to really hear what they say, so that you can respond intelligently and with curiosity. So, it's important to be a good listener , and to fine-tune your emotional intelligence . 

Tip:

It's hard to establish rapport with someone who wants to talk only about herself, so try to balance the conversation. Aim to share as much as the other person does. You'll both feel more comfortable as a result.

6. Mirror and Match

Research shows that we prefer people who we perceive to be just like ourselves. Mirroring and matching are techniques for building rapport by making yourself more like the other person.

How you do this is about more than just what you say. Anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell found that the words we speak account for just seven percent of our communication. The nature of our voice makes up a greater percentage (38 percent), and our body language makes up as much as 55 percent. So, you'll be missing a trick if you don't consider the "whole picture" of human communication.

So, try these techniques to build rapport:


  • Watch the other person's body language , including gesture, posture and expression. If, for example, he rests his chin on his left hand, consider mirroring him by doing the same with your right hand. To match it, you would use your left hand.
  • Adopt a similar temperament. If the other person is introverted or extroverted, shy or exuberant, you should behave in the same way. If he's reserved, for example, then you should be, too, or you'll risk being seen as brash or invasive.
  • Use similar language . If he uses simple, direct words, then you should, too. If he speaks in technical language, then match that style. You can also reiterate key or favorite words or phrases.
  • Match the other person's speech patterns, such as tone, tempo and volume. For instance, if he speaks softly and slowly, then lower the volume and tempo of your voice. (Research by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation suggests that this is the most effective way to establish rapport. It's subtle, but it makes the other person feel comfortable and that he's being understood.)
Discretion and common sense are essential when mirroring and matching. Don't, for example, mimic every word and gesture. If you do, you risk causing offense. Be subtle and aim to reach a point where you're naturally synchronizing your behavior, so that the other person is unaware of what you're doing.

Mirroring and matching can be difficult skills to master. However, remember that we all unconsciously mirror and match family, friends and colleagues every day. If you want to practice, try using role playing .

Tip:

If people know about body language, they'll pick up that you're mirroring and this might have the opposite effect to the one that you want. So, don't be mechanistic – be relaxed and appropriate.

Re-Establishing Rapport

It takes time to rebuild rapport when it has been lost.

First, address why you lost rapport in the first place. Be humble  and explain honestly and simply what happened. If you need to apologize , do so.

Next, focus on ways of repairing any broken trust. Put in extra work if you need to, and keep your word. Transparency and genuine concern for the other person's needs will go a long way to rebuilding trust and re-establishing rapport.

Key Points

You build rapport when you develop mutual trust, friendship and affinity with someone.

Building rapport can be incredibly beneficial to your career – it helps you to establish good interpersonal relationships, and this can open many doors for you.

Follow these six steps to build rapport:

1.Check your appearance.
2.Remember the basics of good communication.
3.Find common ground.
4.Create shared experiences.
5.Be empathic.
6.Mirror and match mannerisms and speech appropriately.

Rapport is best built over the long term. However, you can use these strategies to build it quite quickly, if you need to.


To your greater success and fulfillment,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
SMART DEVELOPMENT
Email: petercmclees@gmail.com
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. 

Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Building Good Work Relationships
















Making Work Enjoyable and Productive

How good are the relationships that you have with your colleagues?

In this article, we're looking at how you can build strong, positive relationships at work. We'll see why it's important to have good working relationships, and we'll look at how to strengthen your relationships with people that you don't naturally get on with.

Why Have Good Relationships?

Human beings are naturally social creatures – we crave friendship and positive interactions, just as we do food and water. So it makes sense that the better our relationships are at work, the happier and more productive we're going to be.

Good working relationships give us several other benefits: our work is more enjoyable when we have good relationships with those around us. Also, people are more likely to go along with changes that we want to implement, and we're more innovative and creative.

What's more, good relationships give us freedom: instead of spending time and energy overcoming the problems associated with negative relationships, we can, instead, focus on opportunities.

Good relationships are also often necessary if we hope to develop our careers. After all, if your boss doesn't trust you, it's unlikely that he or she will consider you when a new position opens up. Overall, we all want to work with people we're on good terms with.

We also need good working relationships with others in our professional circle. Customers, suppliers, and key stakeholders are all essential to our success. So, it's important to build and maintain good relations with these people.

Defining a Good Relationship

There are several characteristics that make up good, healthy working relationships:

Trust – This is the foundation of every good relationship. When you trust your team and colleagues, you form a powerful bond that helps you work and communicate more effectively. If you trust the people you work with, you can be open and honest in your thoughts and actions, and you don't have to waste time and energy "watching your back."

Mutual Respect – When you respect the people that you work with, you value their input and ideas, and they value yours. Working together, you can develop solutions based on your collective insight, wisdom and creativity.

Mindfulness – This means taking responsibility for your words and actions. Those who are mindful are careful and attend to what they say, and they don't let their own negative emotions impact the people around them.

Welcoming Diversity – People with good relationships not only accept diverse people and opinions, but they welcome them. For instance, when your friends and colleagues offer different opinions from yours, you take the time to consider what they have to say, and factor their insights into your decision-making.

Open Communication – We communicate all day, whether we're sending emails and IMs, or meeting face-to-face. The better and more effectively you communicate with those around you, the richer your relationships will be. All good relationships depend on open, honest communication.

Where to Build Good Relationships

Although we should try to build and maintain good working relationships with everyone, there are certain relationships that deserve extra attention.

For instance, you'll likely benefit from developing good relationships with key stakeholders in your organization. These are the people who have a stake in your success or failure. Forming a bond with these people will help you ensure that your projects, and career, stay on track.

Once you've created a list of colleagues who have an interest in your projects and career, you can devote time to building and managing these relationships.

Clients and customers are another group who deserve extra attention. Think of the last time you had to deal with an unhappy customer; it was probably challenging and draining. Although you may not be able to keep everyone happy 100 percent of the time, maintaining honest, trusting relationships with your customers can help you ensure that if things do go wrong, damage is kept to a minimum. Good relationships with clients and customers can also lead to extra sales, career advancement, and a more rewarding life.

How to Build Good Work Relationships

So, what can you do to build better relationships at work?

Identify Your Relationship Needs
Look at your own relationship needs. Do you know what you need from others? And do you know what they need from you?

Understanding these needs can be instrumental in building better relationships.

Schedule Time to Build Relationships
Devote a portion of your day toward relationship building, even if it's just 15 minutes, perhaps broken up into five-minute segments.

For example, you could pop into someone's office during lunch, reply to people's postings on Twitter  or LinkedIn , or ask a colleague out for a quick cup of coffee.

These little interactions help build the foundation of a good relationship, especially if they're face-to-face.

Focus on Your EI
Also, spend time developing your emotional intelligence (EI). Among other things, this is your ability to recognize your own emotions, and clearly understand what they're telling you.

High EI also helps you to understand the emotions and needs of others.

Appreciate Others
Show your appreciation whenever someone helps you. Everyone, from your boss to the office cleaner, wants to feel that their work is appreciated. So, genuinely compliment the people around you when they do something well. This will open the door to great work relationships.

Be Positive
Focus on being positive. Positivity is attractive and contagious, and it will help strengthen your relationships with your colleagues. No one wants to be around someone who's negative all the time.

Manage Your Boundaries
Make sure that you set and manage boundaries  properly – all of us want to have friends at work, but, occasionally, a friendship can start to impact our jobs, especially when a friend or colleague begins to monopolize our time.

If this happens, it's important that you're assertive about your boundaries, and that you know how much time you can devote during the work day for social interactions.

Avoid Gossiping
Don't gossip – office politics  and "gossip" are major relationship killers at work. If you're experiencing conflict with someone in your group, talk to them directly about the problem. Gossiping about the situation with other colleagues will only exacerbate the situation, and will cause mistrust and animosity between you.

Listen Actively
Practice active listening when you talk to your customers and colleagues. People respond to those who truly listen to what they have to say. Focus on listening more than you talk, and you'll quickly become known as someone who can be trusted.

Difficult Relationships

Occasionally, you'll have to work with someone you don't like Add to My Personal Learning Plan , or someone that you simply can't relate to. But, for the sake of your work, it's essential you maintain a professional relationship with them.

When this happens, make an effort to get to know the person. It's likely that they know full well that the two of you aren't on the best terms, so make the first move to improve the relationship by engaging them in a genuine conversation, or by inviting them out to lunch.

While you're talking, try not to be too guarded. Ask them about their background, interests and past successes. Instead of putting energy into your differences, focus on finding things that you have in common.

Just remember – not all relationships will be great; but you can make sure that they are, at least, workable!

Key Points

Building and maintain good working relationships will not only make you more engaged and committed to your organization; it can also open doors to key projects, career advancement, and raises.

Start by identifying the key stakeholders in your organization. These people, as well as your clients and customers, deserve extra time and attention.

Then, devote a portion of your day to laying the foundation of good relationships. Even five minutes a day, if it's genuine, can help to build a bond between you and a colleague. Be honest, avoid gossip, and try to compliment people on a job well done. After all, the more you give in your relationships, the more you'll get back from those around you!

To your greater success and fulfillment,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Performance Consultant
SMART DEVELOPMENT
Email: petercmclees@gmail.com
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping service providers, ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. 

Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.